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.
Washington – Dante Pettis (wide receiver/punt returner)
Knotted up in a 24-24 battle with then-No. 17 Utah on Saturday, No. 4 Washington was looking for the final strike on offense after getting a defensive stop and forcing the Utes to send out the punting unit with 3:40 left in regulation.
And the Huskies didn’t have to wait long for that game-breaking play.
Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis fielded the punt at his own 42-yard line, shed an initial tackle, ran across field down the other sideline and stayed inbounds en route to a 58-yard return score to give Washington the 31-24 lead.
That was all the spark the Huskies needed, as their defense then forced a turnover on downs on Utah’s next possession, allowing the Washington offense to enter victory formation and avoid the Pac-12 upset.
Usually one of quarterback Jake Browning’s top go-to targets out wide, Pettis finished Saturday’s game with just two receptions for 13 yards. But it was on that special teams score where Pettis made his true impact.
Four undefeated teams went down on the road in Week 9. Thanks to Pettis, the Huskies did not join that group.
Wisconsin – Dare Ogunbowale (running back)
Much of Wisconsin’s 2016 success – outside of its top defensive unit – has come from the reemergence of running back Corey Clement as a leader on offense.
But in Saturday night’s primetime overtime upset over previously-unbeaten Nebraska, it was Dare Ogunbowale, Clement’s backup, who led the way.
The senior running back ran for a season-high 120 yards on only 11 attempts against a solid Huskers defense. His 11-yard touchdown run on the Badgers’ first possession in overtime proved to be the game-winning score in a 23-17 win.
Ogunbowale nearly doubled his previous high yards mark this season (65 yards against Georgia State) and served as an excellent complement to Clement (19 carries, 82 yards against the Huskers).
After the game, however, he brushed aside his game-winning score and the former walk-on defensive back instead put the focus on his one special teams tackle on the day.
Forget the touchdown, ya boy got a tackle on special teams!! #BackToMyRoots— Dare Ogunbowale (@DGO23_) October 30, 2016
While the Badgers would love to see Ogunbowale continue contributing on special teams, if he puts together more offensive performances like Saturday, that’ll be a welcome addition for a program largely carried by its defense thus far.
Clemson – Jordan Leggett (tight end)
Deshaun Watson has so many reliable playmakers at his disposal, each with a different skillset. Watson used all of them, completing passes to eight different receivers, to scrape by Florida State 37-34 in Tallahassee.
But Watson’s favorite target in Week 9 was versatile tight end Jordan Leggett, who hauled in five catches for 122 yards.
Leggett’s final reception was the biggest, coming with 2:14 left in the game with the Tigers trailing by five.
The 6-5 tight end was wide open on a busted coverage and caught the ball inside the 20-yard line with plenty of space in front of him. He charged toward the end zone, and when he was finally met by a Seminoles defender going low for the tackle at the 4-yard line, Leggett acrobatically dove with full extension over him and barely crossed the plane to put Clemson back on top.
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Leggett looked like he was going to land a full yard short, but he showed tremendous balance in propelling himself forward the needed distance with his left wrist before hitting the surface.
Florida State had no answer in the ensuing two-minute drill and the Tigers escaped Florida State with the big ACC Coastal win to stay undefeated.
2016 helmet sticker leaders: Washington (3), Clemson (2), Louisville (2), Oklahoma (2), Alabama (1), Arizona State (1), Arkansas (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), Wisconsin (1)
(Photos courtesy of Mike Dinovo, Jeff Hanisch and Mark J. Rebilas | USA Today Sports Images)