There are a 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 minor 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.
Pittsburgh – Nathan Peterman (quarterback)
Senior quarterback Nathan Peterman sure picked a good time to have a career day.
The Panthers signal caller racked up 308 yards and five touchdowns to go along with zero turnovers in a stunning 43-42 victory over No. 2 Clemson on the road in hostile Death Valley. The top four upset was one of three on the day that sent shockwaves across college football.
The 37 pass attempts by Peterman marked a season-high while his 308 yards was a new career best. The Tennessee transfer outdueled his Heisman candidate counterpart in Deshaun Watson, who finished with 580 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three costly interceptions for the Tigers.
The Panthers showed they came ready to play early Saturday with a quick touchdown from Peterman to George Aston just two minutes into regulation. From there, Pitt and Clemson traded shots until the final whistle, where a last-second field goal from Chris Blewitt gave Pitt the victory.
Peterman tore apart Clemson’s respectable defense – which came into the game allowing just 16 points per game – with a steady diet of low-risk throws and short pattern connections. But he also showed the ability to throw the ball downfield under plenty of pressure in the pocket. His two longest touchdown passes came on a 46-yard catch and run to James Conner and a 55-yard dime to Scott Orndoff.
USC – Adoree’ Jackson (cornerback)
The Trojans have come a long way since their Week 1 blowout loss to No. 1 Alabama.
And while freshman quarterback Sam Darnold has had the biggest hand in their turnaround, Adoree’ Jackson, the quarterback of USC’s defense, has been as consistent as you can ask for from a cornerback.
So it was no surprise that Jackson was a key figure in the Trojans’ conference-shaking 26-13 upset over No. 4 Washington on Saturday night.
Jackson and the USC defense held Washington’s rolling offense to just 276 total yards and 13 first downs. The Trojans also forced two turnovers and a safety against Washington’s Heisman hopeful quarterback Jake Browning.
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Jackson was on the receiving end of both of Browning’s picks and each had a significant impact in the upset bid.
His first came in the second quarter with Washington approaching midfield. But on third down, Jackson came away with the pass and set the Trojans up for their first touchdown drive of the day. Momentum began to shift after the turnover as USC went on a 14-3 run to take a 17-6 lead into the half.
Jackson then stole one again with 4:17 remaining and the Huskies trailing by 11. With heavy pressure closing on a scrambling Browning inside his own 20-yard line, he threw across his body and a diving Jackson came away with the pick that allowed USC to further kill the clock.
Along with the two interceptions, Jackson also had three tackles, one pass breakup, a crucial eight-yard gain with the offensive unit on third down to set up a touchdown and one impressive celebratory flip:
Mood... https://t.co/E2LtqxgtYn— Adoree' Jackson (@AdoreeKnows) November 13, 2016
Iowa – Jaleel Johnson (defensive lineman)
The whole Hawkeyes defense deserves a ton of praise after holding No. 3 Michigan and its 44.5 points-per-game offense to just 13 points and 230 yards of total offense in a 14-13 upset. At the center of attention within the unit was Jaleel Johnson.
Johnson finished with a team-leading nine tackles and one sack at defensive tackle. And with points at a premium on both sides, he provided the Hawkeyes with two points himself – the difference between an Iowa win and loss.
Trailing 10-0 midway through the second quarter, the Hawkeyes had the Wolverines pinned deep in their own end to start the drive. On second down at the two-yard line, Michigan running back De’Veon Smith took the handoff and was immediately stuffed by Johnson for the safety to put Iowa on the scoreboard.
The defensive play kickstarted an 11-0 run that gave the Hawkeyes a one-point lead heading into the final frame and ultimately allowed them to walk off with the home victory on a field goal with time expiring.
2016 helmet sticker leaders: Washington (3), Alabama (2), Clemson (2), Louisville (2), Oklahoma (2), Arizona State (1), Arkansas (1), Florida State (1), Georgia (1), Houston (1), Iowa (1), LSU (1), Louisiana Tech (1), Michigan (1), Mississippi State (1), North Carolina (1), North Carolina State (1), Ohio State (1), Penn State (1), Pittsburgh (1), Stanford (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (1), Texas A&M (1), USC (1), Western Michigan (1), Wisconsin (1)
(Photos courtesy of Charles LeClaire, Mark J. Rebilas and Kirby Lee | USA Today Sports)