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Uniform roundup: Ohio State breaks from tradition with black uniforms

Tradition and college football. The two are hard to separate. The sport's longstanding customs are what make it so beloved.

So why is Ohio State wearing black from head to toe on Saturday when the Buckeyes host Penn State?

For one night, (a "Dark Night in the Shoe", to be precise), they're abandoning tradition. Yes, an Ohio State team will be seen without a predominantly scarlet or gray garment. Is that such a bad thing?

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith says he's carefully walking the line between staying true to the program's history and keeping up with the times.

"We're blessed here, an institution has such great tradition and history," Smith said in a press conference this week. "You have to make sure you respect that. And there are certain things that become untouchable in that regard.

"At the same time, you have to recognize that our demographic is changing ... Recruiting has changed, our competitors have changed. So there is that balance of respect, our history and tradition, but also moving ourselves further into the 21st century ... and the uniforms are part of that."

For better or worse, one of the nation's most iconic programs is dipping its toe into the pool of uniform makeovers, a move that may not sit well with some alumni but feels like a necessity in today's college football universe.

Although Smith and the Buckeyes stand to benefit from the alternates -- the campus store sold out of black apparel in less than a day -- the AD made one thing very clear. This is a once-a-year deal in Columbus. (And the student managers, who will manually place nearly 2,000 helmet stickers are thankful for that.)

"I get a couple emails from people saying, 'We're not Oregon,' " Smith said. "You're right. We're not Oregon. We're not going to be Oregon. We're Ohio State University, and we're going to pick one game every year where we try to do this."

Don't expect to see Ohio State placing dueling silhouettes of Orville and Wilbur Wright on either side of its helmets anytime soon.

On to the roundup...

Keeping it in the Big Ten, Northwestern will try to conjure some of that 1995 Rose Bowl magic when the Wildcats take the field in these throwbacks.


That whole powder-blue helmet thing seemed to go pretty well for Ole Miss when the Rebels wore them at Alabama so they're going back to them on Saturday at Memphis.


Miami will try to halt its two-game losing streak when the Hurricanes host Virginia Tech. If this artist's rendering is to be believed, they'll be wearing all green.


Louisville is going back to the all-white look that the Cardinals wore in their season opening loss to Auburn.


There will be a lot of orange on the field in Charlottesville when Virginia hosts Syracuse.


Baylor is incorporating a black jersey into its "steel gray" getup.


Arizona State will cap an all-white look with its black helmet when the Sun Devils try to upset Utah and shake up the Pac-12 South.

Across the field, Utah will honor the Ute Tribe by putting a new spin on the "satin red" helmets the Utes wore in their season opening win over Michigan.


Colorado's got gray alternates against Arizona on Saturday -- including the helmet -- and coach Mike MacIntyre's got puns.


Georgia Southern will wear white helmets for the first time in school history when it hosts New Mexico State for homecoming on Saturday.