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.
Florida – Gators defensive line
The Gators are heading back to the SEC championship game for the second straight season. And the defensive front is largely to thank for punching a ticket back to Atlanta.
Florida and LSU were locked in a defensive battle in Saturday’s matchup in Baton Rouge, which Florida won 16-10. The Tigers were held to a single field goal over the final three quarters but seemed primed to take the lead over the final minutes with a long, methodical drive starting at the 3:24 mark.
LSU worked its way to a first and goal situation at the 7-yard line with the clock ticking under two minutes. With the dynamic tandem of running backs Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice at the Tigers’ disposal, it seemed certain LSU would work its way into the end zone on the ground to take a 17-16 lead over the waning seconds.
But Florida’s front seven stood tall.
Guice received back-to-back hand-offs for two and four yards to set up a crucial third and one situation. The Gators then stopped Guice for no gain on his next two rushes to force a turnover on downs as time expired.
The win marked the fifth time out of six games that Florida’s defense held its opponent to 14 points or less. Against the Tigers strong rushing offense, the Gators held the duo of Guice and Fournette to under four yards per carry.
Florida’s defense has stood out all year long – the Gators are fifth in the FBS in yards allowed per game. They’ll need a similar performance in the trenches to have any shot against SEC West champ Alabama in two weeks.
Colorado – Sefo Liufau (quarterback)
Don’t look now, but the Pac-12 is an open race.
Sure, Washington is probably still the favorite after following up a Week 11 loss to a good USC team with a dominating win over Arizona State, but there are plenty of legitimate threats elsewhere.
Pac-12 South leader Colorado won a battle between two of these contenders with a 38-24 defeat of Washington State Saturday afternoon in Boulder. In his second to last regular season game as a Buffalo, senior quarterback Sefo Liufau shined with 345 passing yards, 108 rushing yards and a trio of touchdown runs.
Both of those yardage totals mark a season-high for Liufau, who missed two games earlier this season due to injury and took some time returning to full strength. But since Oct. 15, the Buffs have rattled off five straight victories and seized control in its division.
In Saturday’s afternoon matchup, Washington State got out to an early 14-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. Liufau then accounted for Colorado’s next three touchdowns to give the Buffs their first lead heading into the final frame since the 10:34 mark in the first quarter.
Liufau’s third touchdown run, an 11-yard scamper, put Colorado in front 28-24 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. Colorado then scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth to put the game away for good.
The Buffs haven’t been to a bowl game since 2007. But behind Liufau’s late-season success and Phillip Lindsay’s production at running back, Colorado is looking for a Pac-12 title and an outside shot at a CFP spot.
Stanford – Christian McCaffrey (running back)
Surprised to see McCaffrey earn his first helmet sticker in Week 12? We are too.
But after a midseason slump, Stanford is back to ranked status and its top playmaker out of the backfield appears to be back to full strength.
McCaffrey easily turned in his top performance of the season in Stanford’s 45-31 victory over Cal in Week 12. McCaffrey totaled 284 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries while adding a team-high four catches for 22 yards.
McCaffrey went four straight weeks in October where he failed to top 100 rushing yards or score a single touchdown (including his absence against Notre Dame). Since that rut, the junior has averaged 196 rushing yards per game and has accounted for 10 touchdowns in the past four weeks.
McCaffrey was a much-watch attraction in last year’s Heisman runner-up campaign. But this season, whether due to injuries, Stanford’s quarterback struggles or other factors, his electrifying moments have been few and far between for much of this year.
But one of these top moments came against the Golden Bears Saturday when McCaffrey ran through three Cal defenders and sped upfield for a 90-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, marking his longest touchdown run of his illustrious career.
2016 helmet sticker leaders: Washington (3), Alabama (2), Clemson (2), Louisville (2), Oklahoma (2), Stanford (2), Arizona State (1), Arkansas (1), Colorado (1), Florida (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), Tennessee (1), Texas (1), Texas A&M (1), USC (1), Western Michigan (1), Wisconsin (1)
(Photos courtesy of Mike Dinovo, Ron Chenoy and Kirby Lee | USA Today Sports)