Ranking every Ohio State Alternate uniform

A list that surely every Buckeye fan will agree with.

Ranking every Ohio State Alternate uniform

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Ohio State announcing the return of their all-gray alternate uniform for this season's Iowa game got me thinking: What if I ranked every alternate the Buckeyes have ever worn and probably piss off 75% of the fanbase in the process?

Ranking every Ohio State alternate uniform

15. All-scarlet (2021 Penn State)

If you follow me, you already know how much I dislike Ohio State's current scarlet jersey. Throwing scarlet pants and socks into the mix created a uniform right out of my worst nightmares. This is all I can think of when I see these:

Games worn: 2021 Penn State

14. Scarlet "Rivalry" uniform (2012-2014)

Nike introduced these "rivalry" uniforms for the 2012 Michigan game, and Ohio State wore them six times over the next two seasons. The reflective numbers and fat scarlet shoulder stripes had me seriously considering putting them in last place, but this set does have a few redeeming qualities:

  • The helmet is badass. The chrome with chunky stripes works, and the reflective Buckeye stickers are a touch I wouldn't mind seeing come back.
  • As much as I don't like the fat shoulder stripe on the scarlet uniform, it led to an incredible road look. (We'll get to that in a bit.)

These and the all-scarlet uniforms are the only two sets on this list I truly can't stand.

Games worn: 2012 Michigan, 2013 Wisconsin, 2013 Penn State, 2013 Clemson, 2014 Virginia Tech, 2014 Illinois

13. 100th anniversary tribute (2016)

The Buckeyes rocked this wild throwback against Nebraska in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the program's first undefeated season in 1916. The "cannonball" helmet cool –save that thought for later– and I actually like the large numbers and vertical gray stripes on the front of the jersey. It's an ugly uniform, but I don't mind ugly when it's a throwback.

Games worn: 2016 Nebraska

12. Nike Pro Combat 1961 tribute (2011)

If you polled every Ohio State fan about their least-favorite uniform, I'd be shocked if these didn't get the most votes. They're downright hideous, and I'm not gonna pretend otherwise. HOWEVER....They get bonus points for two things:

Games worn: 2011 Wisconsin

11. "Whiteout" current uniforms (2020)

The whiteout edition of Ohio State's current road set was originally set for the 2020 Illinois game, but shifted to Michigan State after a COVID cancellation. As much as the current uniforms bother me, the road whites are palatable because they at least still have gray stripes on the shoulders. Throwing in white pants made for a clean look overall. If they're dead-set on sticking with the current discount-ass uniform set, I'd at least like to see these once every couple years.

Games worn: 2020 Michigan State

10. Nike Pro Combat 1942 tribute (2010)

Another divisive uniform that most Ohio State fans probably have at the bottom of their list, but I personally don't mind. I can do without the cherry-red helmet and gray socks, but the jersey and number font look phenomenal. I'd love for both to be incorporated in a future uniform. On that note, Ohio State's hockey team wore the road version of these in 2023, and the football team needs to add them to their rotation immediately:

Games worn: 2010 Michigan

9. Cannonball helmets, throwback gray stripes (2016)

The cannonball helmets from the Nebraska game earlier in the season were paired with the gray sleeve throwbacks for the classic showdown against Michigan in 2016. The Buckeyes also rocked black socks and accessories, which I honestly kinda dig. Not bad uniform at all, but the helmet-jersey-socks mashup makes for the weirdest one-off in Ohio State uni history.

Games worn: 2016 Michigan

8. "Land of the wolves" home (2017)

I like these uniforms anyway, but it's hard to not have some extra fondness for them given what happened when they were worn. Ohio State rallied from deficits of 35-20 and 38-27 with just under five minutes to play for a stunning 39-38 win over Penn State at home. The only thing keeping these from a higher ranking are the pants (gray monochrome is rough), but I love the wolf-pattern helmet/jersey numbers, the reflective Buckeye leaves, and everything else here.

Games worn: 2017 Penn State

7. The original Nike Pro Combat (2009)

Another one that's sure to alienate some of you. These were Ohio State's contribution to the OG Nike Pro Combat series in 2009, and the Buckeyes' first true alternate uniform. They were a combination tribute to the 1954 team (white helmet) and a faux throwback look from Nike. I could do without the gray pants, but the white jersey is good enough as a one-time wear. The helmets are an A+, and I'd love for them to reappear somehow in the future.

I wrote a full breakdown of these uniforms that you can check out here.

Games worn: 2009 Michigan

6. All gray (2023)

I'm being phony here because I just said that gray monochrome is "rough" only a couple of numbers ago, but I don't care. Adding these to the rotation was a tape-measure home run, and I'm happy they're coming back this season. The white outline on the scarlet numbers makes these pop, taking them to another level.

Games worn: 2023 Michigan State

5. 'Land of the wolves' road (2017)

As good as the gray 'land of the wolves' jerseys from the 2017 Penn State game are, the road version is even better. Not incorporating scarlet on either was a bold choice, but the reflective Buckeye leaves once again take that responsibility and bring everything together. It's a shame we haven't seen them in the six seasons since, because they're a flawless road alternate.

Games worn: 2017 Michigan

4. The "Cocaine whites" (2013-2014)

I love this uniform as much as I hate the home version of it. The elements I didn't like on the scarlet jersey (fat shoulder stripe, reflective numbers) are the ones that make its counterpart fantastic. The fat helmet stripe has aged better than I ever thought it would, too.

Games worn: 2013 Michigan, 2014 Penn State

3. Blackout (2015-present)

As far as "true" Ohio State alternate uniforms go, this is my No. 1. Not having gray shoulder sleeves actually works on a black jersey, and everything goes together nicely in a way that it doesn't on the rest of their current uniforms. This set should be worn once-a-season, mandatory.

Games worn: 2015 Penn State, 2018 Nebraska, 2019 Michigan State, 2022 Wisconsin

2. Gray sleeves (home)

Ohio State changing from these to their current set in 2006 made people so mad that they literally provoked more reaction locally than same-sex marriage:

Unfortunately, Ryan Day's poor taste in primary uniforms means we're still stuck with calling these "alternates" almost 20 years later.

I understand that I'm committing treason by having the scarlet version lower than the white, but that's just my opinion. They're both timeless, and it's a travesty that we don't see these in The Horseshoe at least four times a year.

Games worn: 2014 Oregon, 2015 Hawaii, 2015 Michigan State, 2019 Clemson

1. Gray sleeves (road)

The gold standard in Ohio State uniforms. The main reason I have them above the home version is because of the scarlet stripes on the sleeve.

I've complained a lot about Ryan Day over the last three years, but the thing that makes me the maddest is him and his head equipment guy trying to convince the fanbase that saving the program's best uniforms for the playoffs makes them "more special":

The guys who run the program admitting they have a better uniform available and just choose not to wear it is bad enough on its own, and worse when you consider we haven't seen these for two of the last three years because they puckered up against their hated rival. (And they should thank Utah it wasn't the last three.) That's a rant for another day, though.

These and the home version are uniform perfection, and maybe one day we won't have to resort to calling them "alternates."

Games worn: 2014 Alabama, 2015 Virginia Tech, 2015 Michigan, 2016 Oklahoma, 2016 Penn State, 2016 Clemson, 2020 Clemson, 2020 Alabama, 2022 Georgia