What is the best helmet in all of college football?
If you ask that question to a dozen college football fans and of course they’ll answer with their favorite team and then proceed to name the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, and Alabama probably before too long.
Great debates were being had on my Twitter feed Thursday morning so I decided to go back into the vault and reexamine my top 10 helmet list that I originally put together during the pandemic.
But sometimes tastes change and things grow stale or old. With that in mind here are the definitive 10 best helmets in college football.
But first, let’s start with a couple that often gets love but should never be considered among the best for reasons we’ll quickly examine.
Too much love (1/3): Oregon
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Whether you love the Nike involvement or hate it you have to admit that Oregon has carved out a unique niche with its different uniforms seemingly every week.
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I’m a fan of them doing it and keeping things fresh, however, you can’t be considered in the best helmet conversation if you never wear the same one two weeks in a row.
Too much love (2/3): Georgia
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Winning makes anything look better and Georgia has certainly done a lot of that in recent years but their helmet is nothing more than the Green Bay Packers with a lesser color combination. Florida and Tennessee both might not be the most exciting lids but at least the Gators and Vols can lay claim to originality.
Too much love (3/3): LSU
Oregon features a helmet or helmets that can be left up for some debate but there is no debate when it comes to LSU being left of this and any other list of the best college football helmets.
A quick look at LSU’s helmet shows you that being unique isn’t always a good thing. Let’s examine:
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So not only does LSU get written out at the top, we are also given a tiger drawing that looks like it was done by a third grader who was rushing to get an art assignment completed.
Would Alabama’s helmet be better if “BAMA” was written above a cursive A or elephant? Would Notre Dame be better if “ND” was written along with a shamrock or leprechaun?
No and no.
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To the fine folks at LSU – take my advice and make the tiger eye that’s painted on your 50-yard line, one of the iconic looks in all of college football, and use that in making a better lid.
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The Alabama helmet is no great shake but simultaneously all the great shakes. It’s white numbers on a maroon helmet, about as basic as it gets but when you win as the Tide have won for decades and decades, the look only gets better with age and is the reason it beats out some close calls like Clemson and Iowa who both present strong cases.
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Sure, USC‘s helmets and uniforms are ketchup and mustard looking, sure, but like a few teams on this list, there is a good reason they haven’t been changed in a really long time: because they’re excellent.
Hey LSU, notice how they didn’t feel the need to write USC above the Trojan.
8. Ohio State
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Maybe Ohio State doesn’t have the most exciting helmet but going a bit with the theme here, unless you’re Oregon and changing things up literally week by week, less is more. The Buckeye pride stickers are also the best pride stickers in the land and only add to the helmet.
7. Penn State
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There is basic and then there is Penn State as the Nittany Lions have sported the plain white helmet with a single blue stripe with the smallest of changes since it was introduced in 1949. The iconic look is simple yet more powerful than the white helmets big ten rivals Nebraska and Wisconsin wear that feature forced logos.
Perhaps being as basic as Penn State’s limit how high it can peak on the list but tradition never graduates and this helmet is a classic.
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I don’t know who made the decision to ever go away from the Pitt script on the helmet but it was the worst decision that institution ever made. The return of the script in the last few years and outstanding color combination has the Panthers knocking on the door of the top five.
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It may not get mentioned with the other great helmets in college football but Wyoming has the best Group of Five lids and one of the best in the entire sport. The unique color combination somehow even tops Pitt in the department and the logo is subtle but nearly perfect. Terrific look for the Cowboys.
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The one thing I don’t love about Michigan’s helmets is the pride stickers that returned when Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach. Other than that there is a reason countless high schools nationwide emulate Michigan’s iconic helmet.
Even if Michigan coach Herbert Crisler originally introduced the winged helmet at Princeton.
3. Florida State
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Florida State has a tremendous color scheme, a strong logo, and pride stickers that are only outdone by Ohio State. This is among the best college football has to offer and why they ever go the route of the black ones with FSU written on the side is beyond me.
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As the college football world continues to wait for Texas to be back, it knows that their classic helmets never left. It’s a basic white helmet with a logo that happens to be one of the best across all sports showing once again that less is so often more when it comes to making a great bonnet.
Meanwhile, the folks at LSU are wondering why TEXAS isn’t written between the horns.
1. Notre Dame
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Was there even a question?
Certainly, that’s why we made the list, but the gold helmet Notre Dame wears each Saturday features the tradition that so many of those listed in my top 10 have. It’s like Penn State’s in the way of being basic but also with the additional right amount of added spark. The helmets began showing up with more shine in 2011 in what wound up being the equivalent of giving a Bentley a touchup.