There’s a lot of unique features to like about college football uniforms. There’s the classic get-ups from schools like Notre Dame and Alabama to the stylish, ever-changing equipment put out by programs like Oregon.
But one minute detail that often gets overlooked nowadays are the helmet decals featured by teams like Ohio State and Florida State. It uses a reward system to honor players who have special performances or made impact plays with a sticker to put on one’s helmet. The more plays you make, the more stickers you accumulate.
This season, NCAA.com will install the same system. Every Sunday we will choose three standout players from the weekend to earn “stickers” for their team. Let’s see who has the most decorated helmet at the end of the season.
Louisville – Lamar Jackson (quarterback)
For those of you who read last week’s first edition of this year’s helmet stickers series, you probably noticed there was a pretty big name not included on the three-person list.
Yes, Lamar Jackson’s eight touchdowns in only one half of play against Charlotte last week were out of this world. It’s insane to think of the numbers he would’ve posted if he played the whole game. But I instead went with three other candidates who made major impacts in closer games against tougher competition.
However, I won’t snub Jackson a second time around after another standout performance against Syracuse in Week 2.
Jackson finished 20-of-39 passing for 411 yards and had 21 carries for 199 yards while scoring a combined five touchdowns in the Cardinals’ 62-28 thumping over the Orange. The sophomore signal caller became the second player in FBS history to throw for 400 yards and rush for 150 and fell one rushing yard short of becoming the first ever to throw for 400 and rush for 200.
Through two games (and only six quarters of action), Jackson now has 13 total touchdowns and 1,015 yards of offense. Next up, Jackson and Louisville will face No. 3 Florida State. It’s hard to imagine Jackson’s torrid start continuing at its record pace against an elite Seminoles defense, but Jackson has now proven to be a must-watch commodity.
Arkansas – Austin Allen (quarterback)
Allen is the second quarterback on this week’s list but the junior did more than just distribute the ball Saturday against TCU.
In one of Week 2’s most exciting games, Allen led the Razorbacks to an upset over the No. 15 Horned Frogs in double overtime. His touchdown run on Arkansas’ second possession in the extra frame gave the Razorbacks the walk-off victory after TCU only mustered a field goal on its possession.
Knotted up at 38-38 on the 5-yard line, Allen took the snap out of the shotgun and rushed right, meeting a flurry of bigger TCU front seven bodies well before the goal line. But the 6-1 Allen kept pressing forward for the game-winning score.
Allen also had a major part to do with the Razorbacks reaching overtime, following an offensive onslaught from the Horned Frogs to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Down eight, Allen led Arkansas down the field and delivered a touchdown pass with 1:03 remaining. On the ensuing two-point conversion to tie the game, the Razorbacks ran a gutsy double reverse pass, where Allen was on the unlikely receiving end of the conversion.
Allen finished the game 17-of-29 for 223 passing yards and four total touchdowns. But it was outside the pocket where he made the greatest impact.
Arizona State – Kalen Ballage (running back)
There was no shortage of offense in Saturday night’s game out west between Arizona State and Texas Tech. And it was the Sun Devils’ Ballage leading the charge with eight touchdowns in their 68-55 shootout win.
More than half of Ballage’s touches went for scores as the junior running back tied an FBS record with his eight touchdowns. He carried the ball only 13 times for 137 yards and seven scores while adding two catches for 48 yards and another touchdown.
Six of his seven rushing touchdowns came in the wildcat formation with him taking a direct snap near the goal line. His lone receiving touchdown came off a flea flicker that he took 39 yards. His record night was capped off with a 75-yard run out of the backfield.
Every one of Ballage’s touchdowns were vital in Arizona State’s win, as the Sun Devils were interlocked in a single-digit difference game all the way up until the midway point of the third quarter. Ballage then accounted for four of the last seven touchdowns on either side to allow Arizona State pull away.
2016 helmet sticker leaders: Arizona State (1), Arkansas (1), Clemson (1), Georgia (1), Houston (1), Louisville (1)
(Photo credits: Mark J. Rebilas | USA Today Sports; Nelson Chenault | USA Today Sports; Michelle Hutchins | Louisville Athletics)