There are lot of unique features to like about college football uniforms. There’s the classic get-ups from schools like Notre Dame and Alabama, and 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.
Penn State – Marcus Allen (safety)
Ohio State’s Playoff chances took a sizeable hit Saturday after the Buckeyes fell flat against the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley.
And it was Penn State’s special teams that made the difference in the shocking 24-21 upset.
Seven minutes after the Nittany Lions blocked an Ohio State punt to set up a field goal to trim the Buckeyes’ advantage to 21-17, Penn State once again got a hand on an Ohio State kick – this time to take the lead.
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Ohio State kicker Tyler Durbin was denied on a 45-yard field goal attempt by safety Marcus Allen, who charged in from behind the defensive front and got a piece of the kick with both hands. The ball was then scooped up by cornerback Grant Haley and returned 60 yards for the deciding touchdown.
The special teams score put an exclamation mark on Penn State’s 17-point unanswered run in the final quarter. Ohio State was stopped on its next drive – ending on a fourth down sack on J.T. Barrett – and Penn State picked up its first win over Ohio State since 2014.
Allen had seven tackles on defense alongside his signature play to make for an impressive night.
Oklahoma – Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
It’s so hard to pinpoint just one impact player from Saturday night’s Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech Big 12 battle, a game that saw 125 combined points and a handful of shattered NCAA and school offensive records.
The stat line of the day unquestionably goes to Red Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who posted an NCAA-record 819 total yards along with seven total touchdowns. But his team lost 66-59.
Therefore, the helmet sticker goes to his opposite number who came out on top while posting equally jaw-dropping numbers.
Baker Mayfield continued his hot streak with a 27-of-36 day for 545 yards and seven touchdown passes. Those seven tallies set a new Oklahoma record for a quarterback while his yardage easily set a new career high.
After failing to reach 300 yards in three of the Sooners’ first four games, Mayfield has now surpassed 345 in each of his last three. During this span, the star quarterback is averaging five touchdowns per game.
Oklahoma has now risen to No. 16 in the AP Top 25 poll following a disappointing 1-2 start. Much of this recent success falls on Mayfield rediscovering his Heisman candidate form that was seen all through 2015.
Not to be outdone, two of Mayfield’s top offensive weapons also shined bright against the Red Raiders. Wide receiver Dede Westbrook once again eclipsed 200 receiving yards to go with two touchdowns while running back Joe Mixon accounted for 377 total yards and five touchdowns.
There were plenty of fireworks Saturday night in Lubbock.
LSU – Leonard Fournette (running back)
To the delight of Baton Rouge dwellers and college football fans nationwide, top running back Leonard Fournette returned with a vengeance in Week 8.
After missing the previous three games with an ankle injury, Fournette rushed for an LSU-record 284 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 38-21 upset over fellow ranked SEC opponent Ole Miss.
Saturday’s performance marked the junior’s first 200-yard game of the season (he’s played in four games) and he did so on only 16 carries (17.8 yard average). At full health last year, Fournette reached the 200-yard mark on an astounding four occasions.
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Fournette wasted little time in shaking off the rust, as he raced for a 59-yard touchdown at the under-four minute mark in the first quarter. His biggest home run of the game then came in the third quarter on a 78-yard score.
Fournette showed his breakaway speed on all three touchdown runs, as he was hardly touched after a few decisive cuts down the right sideline.
Welcome back, Leonard Fournette. Hopefully there’s a few more big games in him down the stretch.
2016 helmet sticker leaders: Louisville (2), Oklahoma (2), Washington (2), Alabama (1), Arizona State (1), Arkansas (1), Clemson (1), Florida State (1), Georgia (1), Houston (1), LSU (1), Louisiana Tech (1), Michigan (1), North Carolina (1), North Carolina State (1), Ohio State (1), Penn State (1), Stanford (1), Tennessee (1), Texas A&M (1), Western Michigan (1)
(Photos courtesy of Rich Barnes, Joe Camporeale and Spruce Derden | USA TODAY Sports Images)