Northwestern is the Oregon of Under Armour.
The Wildcats have featured tons of fresh threads the past few years, especially in 2015, when the team rocked 12 different combinations en route to a school-record-tying 10 wins. With so many combinations, the weekly announcement of what attire the Wildcats would wear on Saturdays was one of the most-highly-anticipated events of every game week.
With the 2016 season approaching quickly and uniform changes already unveiled, we needed to know which ones were the best for the team, though. Some fans have lucky shirts they'll never wash or a favorite hat or other accessory that becomes a gameday necessity over time. Here's a look at Northwestern's uniform combinations throughout its first four years with Under Armour, as well as Northwestern's record in every contest.
|2015 Northwestern Uniforms||Helmet||Jersey||Pants||Outcome|
|vs. Eastern Illinois||USA White||Purple||White||Win|
|at Duke||Wildcat White||White||White||Win|
|vs. Ball State||Matte Black||Purple||Black||Win|
|vs. Iowa||Purple||95 Throwback Black||Purple||Loss|
|vs. Penn State||Matte Black||Black||White||Win|
|at Wisconsin||Matte Black||White||Black||Win|
|vs. Tennessee - Outback Bowl||Number Purple||White||White||Loss|
|2014 Northwestern Uniforms||Helmet||Jersey||Pants||Outcome|
|vs. NIU||USA Purple||Purple||Black||Loss|
|vs. Western Illinois||White||Purple||White||Win|
|at Penn State||Purple||White||White||Win|
|at Notre Dame||Purple||White||Purple||Win|
|2013 Northwestern Uniforms||Helmet||Jersey||Pants||Outcome|
|vs. Western Michigan||USA Purple||Purple||Black||Win|
|vs. Ohio State||Wildcat Black||Black||Purple||Loss|
|vs. Michigan||Wounded Warrior||Wounded Warrior||Wounded Warrior||Loss|
|vs. Michigan State||Purple||Purple||Black||Loss|
|2012 Northwestern Uniforms||Helmet||Jersey||Pants||Outcome|
|vs. Vanderbilt||USA Purple||Purple||Black||Win|
|vs. Boston College||Purple||Purple||Black||Win|
|vs. South Dakota||Purple||Purple||Black||Win|
|at Penn State||Purple||White||White||Loss|
|vs. Nebraska||Wildcat Black||Black||Black||Loss|
|at Michigan State||Purple||White||Black||Win|
|vs. Illinois||Wildcat Black||Black||Purple||Win|
|vs. Mississippi State -Gator Bowl||Purple||White||White||Win|
Purple Jerseys: 14-6
White Jerseys: 13-9
Black Jerseys: 2-2
Rose Bowl: 0-1
Wounded Warrior: 0-1
The switch from Adidas to Under Armour was a monumental step for the Northwestern football program. The old uniforms were boring to say the least, and what happened when Adidas tried to make alternate uniforms resulted in this grape-colored disaster.
Here are the uniforms for every game last season...
Week 1 vs. Stanford (W)
Week 2 vs. Eastern Illinois (W)
Week 3 at Duke (W)
Week 4 vs. Ball State (W)
Week 5 vs. Minnesota (W)
Week 6 at Michigan (L)
Week 7 vs. Iowa (L)
Week 8 at Nebraska (W)
Week 9 vs. Penn State (W)
Week 10 vs. Purdue (W)
Week 11 at Wisconsin (W)
Week 12 at Illinois (W)
Bowl Week vs. Tennessee (L)
(NOTE: All pictures from USA Today.)
Notice something about last season? Yep, the Wildcats only wore one uniform combination twice, that was the all-white look against Nebraska and Illinois. And you know what else? That's a really good thing.
Northwestern does not have the kind of tradition-steeped program that makes recruits want to come play in Evanston, and instead have embraced their lack of history by establishing themselves as a school with cool, unique uniforms.
Under Armour has done a terrific job of taking a new spin on a classic brand with the "Northwestern stripe" that the company has incorporated on the jerseys. The purple, white, and black alternates are all great looking jerseys. It's hard to have any problems with them.
The Gothic uniforms serve as the perfect "special" jersey. They look really cool, stir up interest among students and fans and pay homage to the history of the campus.
I will admit Under Armour had one miss: the Wounded Warrior uniforms which received a ton of criticism and had little connection to Northwestern. Personally, as a then-high school junior watching Northwestern, I really liked them and I know my opinion is popular among other high schoolers. You see a lot of recruits include a picture of these uniforms on Twitter when they announce a Northwestern offer, including Northwestern commit Kyric McGowan. But there's really little chance we ever see them again after the backlash that they caused. There's a happy ending though: the jerseys were auctioned off and 100% of proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Foundation, further proving that Northwestern is America's Big Ten team.
To the uniform critics out there that miss the classic purple look, the Wildcats still wear purple on every uniform. It doesn't need to be the most prominent color every time—Northwestern's brand has changed.
Last year Under Armour unveiled a new "Wildcat" helmet against Duke, the 1995 Rose Bowl Throwbacks against Iowa, a matte black "N" helmet that they wore three times, and the "number" helmet. It's safe to believe that Under Armour has something up its sleeve for the Wildcats this season.
This year, Northwestern will almost assuredly wear the USA flag decal helmets Week 2 against Illinois State. They debuted the white ones for the first time last year after previously wearing only the purple.
The Gothic uniforms will most likely be back for one week, and it will most likely be for a home game. Week 4 against Nebraska, under the lights, seems like a very reasonable time to wear them.
Expect to see the Wildcat helmet make an appearance again this year, either the white version which they wore against Duke last season, or the black version that was debuted against Nebraska in 2012. I would love to see both of them this season, or maybe the purple version of the Wildcat helmet.
It's pretty safe to conclude there won't be able throwback uniforms this season, as last year's were to honor the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Rose Bowl team.
We can fully expect to see a similar diversity in uniform combinations similar to last season. From dubbed itself Chicago's Big Ten team to unveiling new uniforms, Northwestern and its brand is evolving, and that's something to be excited about.