Over the last decade or so, there have been 12 Ohio State alternate uniforms used by the Buckeyes. Some believe the alternates are a great piece of the Ohio State program…others lament that “Alabama doesn’t need to do all that flashy stuff!!” No matter where on that spectrum you fall, you know that recruiting is important, and changing it up every now and then helps to recruit.
Ranking the Ohio State Alternate Uniforms
In order to be considered for this list, the Buckeyes would have to wear a jersey that is different than its primary scarlet or white jerseys. In the past 10 or so years, there have been 12 Ohio State alternate uniforms, each with its own history, fan pushback, and success. Please note that these are my opinions, considering ranking these things is subjective.
All of the embedded tweets are thanks to Andrew Lind, founder of OhioStateUniforms.com.
12. 1916 Throwback
Nov. 5, 2016 – #6 Ohio State 62, #10 Nebraska 3: pic.twitter.com/j0wURQEmnx
— Ohio State Uniforms (@OSUniforms) December 23, 2018
At the bottom of the Ohio State alternate uniforms list are the 1916 “Chick Harley” throwbacks. The Buckeyes wore these only once during the 2016 showdown against Nebraska. Both teams came in ranked in the top ten with OSU at #6 and Nebraska at #10. The game started with a Damon Webb pick-six and the Buckeyes never looked back. They won 62-3 after rattling off 55 unanswered points.
I was at this game in the student section (even got on TV!). When Webb returned that interception, the Horseshoe was hopping. Unfortunately, the uniforms the Buckeyes wore were not. I didn’t mind the lack of names on the jerseys. The helmets were a dark gray, almost textured cannonball look. The scarlet jerseys with the vertical gray stripes are the issue. They just don’t work.
11. 1961 Throwback
With 20 seconds left, Braxton Miller heaved what looked like a prayer to a wide-open Devin Smith in the endzone to steal a win over the Russell Wilson-led Wisconsin team that went on to win the Big Ten. The 2011 season is one Buckeyes fans yearn to forget, but this game was legendary.
However, there is a reason these 1961 throwbacks are towards the bottom of these Ohio State alternate uniforms rankings. Scarlet jerseys with white numbers, scarlet pants, gray shoulders, and a gray line down the side of the pants. The helmet was scarlet with a thick, tapered gray stripe. This was the only time the Buckeyes ever wore this combo and for good reason.
10. 1968 Throwback with Cannonball Gray Helmet
Nov. 26, 2016 – #2 Ohio State 30, #3 Michigan 27 (OT): pic.twitter.com/juMUL1TOVB
— Ohio State Uniforms (@OSUniforms) December 20, 2018
The spot was good.
In 2016, Ohio State had to come from behind and force two overtimes to beat hated rival Michigan. I was also at this game and in the same endzone where Curtis Samuel sealed the deal. The Horseshoe was so loud that I could feel the wrinkles on my brain.
The 1968 throwbacks are not bad; they are the go-to for the Buckeyes when they wear scarlet in the CFP. But the juxtaposition of that jersey with the cannonball gray helmet just did not sit right. It really felt like when you edit jerseys on Madden and create a set with a jersey from one era and a helmet from another. Thankfully, this game was the last time the Buckeyes ever sported this mix.
9. 1942 Throwback
Much to the chagrin of older Buckeye fans, Ohio State alternate uniforms come out against Michigan frequently. The 2010 matchup is no different. Just a year removed from the white 1954 throwbacks, the Buckeyes sported an all-scarlet throwback en route to yet another win in The Game.
Honestly, this is where we begin to split hairs. The throwback was actually very well-done. It gave a modern look to a classic. The font of the numbers is not my speed, but they pulled them off. The helmets were a bit boring, however, but that’s what they looked like. As with the previous three entries, this was the only time the Buckeyes wore these threads.
8. “Land of the Wolves” (Gray)
Oct. 28, 2017 – #6 Ohio State 39, #2 Penn State 38: pic.twitter.com/7f1egFcfiI
— Ohio State Uniforms (@OSUniforms) December 9, 2018
This alternate was legitimately a shot at all of the “Ohio States’ colors are scarlet and gray! Not black!” Well, here is a gray jersey. The Buckeyes wore these in its legendary comeback against Penn State in 2017. J.T. Barrett could not miss in the fourth quarter and kept the Buckeyes’ CFP hopes alive.
Realistically, I do not hate these unis, but they could have been done better. The gray jersey with plain black numbers and names with gray pants and an oddly-textured gray helmet felt kind of “meh.” If the Buckeyes had lost that game, fans would likely have just burnt those jerseys and forgot about it. I believe they will bring out a new gray jersey in the future, but will they get it right?
7. 1968 Throwback/Nike Diamond Quest (Scarlet)
The first on this Ohio State alternate uniforms list to be worn multiple times is this 1968 scarlet throwback. It’s a popular opinion that these (or, at least a re-worked version) should be their permanent home jerseys. Overall, the Buckeyes are 2-2 while wearing these with wins over 2015 Oregon (CFP Title) and Hawai’i, and losses to Michigan State in 2015 and Clemson in the 2019 CFP Semi-Final.
Change the shoulder numbers to white like the front and back numbers, and they could be the regular home jerseys. The black-on-scarlet seems a bit odd, but I understand the allure. These are great jerseys but aren’t among the top half of the Ohio State alternate uniforms.
6. “Rivalry” (Scarlet)
I always referred to these (and the subsequent whites) as the “Primetime Jerseys” because Ohio State always brought them out for big night games. The Buckeyes premiered these threads in 2012 in the win over Michigan and have worn them six times overall. With wins over Michigan in 2012, Wisonsin and Penn State in 2013, and Illinois in 2014, Ohio State enjoyed these. They did drop two games to Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl then Virginia Tech in the 2014 regular season.
Change the names from black to gray and these likely shoot up this list. The shiny gray helmet with the thick red stripe is an interesting take, but I always found it worked. There are so many iconic shots of these jerseys where the Buckeyes are waiting in the tunnel and all you can really see are the silver number outlines. Love it. But I love the white versions even more.
5. “Rivalry” (White)
Not sure why, but I love when the Buckeyes wear white. Ohio State debuted the white versions of the Rivalry threads in 2013 against Michigan then brought them back once more in a win over Penn State in 2014. Both games went down to the wire. Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner‘s 2-pt attempt to seal the win over Michigan. Joey Bosa baptized whichever poor Penn State running back tasked with blocking him one-on-one and sacked Christian Hackenberg to win it.
These could easily be the standard away jerseys. The numbers on the chest, back, and shoulders are all scarlet, as is the name. The helmet is the same shiny one from the scarlet version. Additionally, they loved to wear white pants to have an iconic white-on-white look. I can still see Braxton Miller tearing through that Michigan defense for a long touchdown run.
4. 1954 Throwback
For the best throwback on this list of Ohio State alternate uniforms, we have to jump all the way back to the 2009 showdown between the Buckeyes and Michigan. Sure, it was 11+ years ago, but I felt like it needed to be included. In the 21-10 win, the Buckeyes ran through Michigan behind Dan Herron, Brandon Saine, and Terrelle Pryor. It was a forgettable game, but these unis were not.
I love the simplicity. White jerseys, red numbers with gray trim, white helmets with black numbers. The only points I take off are because of the different number fonts between the jersey and helmet. Either keep the block numbers on the jersey and lose the helmet numbers or use the numbers from the 1942 throwbacks.
3. Throwback/Nike Diamond Quest (White)
Nov. 28, 2015 – #8 Ohio State 42, #10 Michigan 13: pic.twitter.com/NgmfpwrfRk
— Ohio State Uniforms (@OSUniforms) January 17, 2019
If Ohio State would change its away jerseys to any of these, the most likely would be these Diamond Quest whites. Since debuting them against Alabama in the 2015 CFP Semi-Final, the Buckeyes have sported these threads an additional seven times. They’ve won five contests (2015 Alabama, Virginia Tech, Michigan; 2016 Oklahoma; 2020 Clemson) and lost three (2016 Penn State; 2016 Clemson; 2021 Alabama).
All white jersey/pants combo, scarlet numbers and names, and the gray sleeves? Sign me up! Eight instances in six years is easily the most frequent for all these alternates. For a stretch, these could have been considered the regular white unis. Either way, if you want something traditional while modernizing at the same time, these are for you!
2. “Land of the Wolves” (White)
Nov. 25, 2017 – #9 Ohio State 31, Michigan 20: pic.twitter.com/HBn6uV6zzM
— Ohio State Uniforms (@OSUniforms) December 5, 2018
I may be alone in thinking the Land of the Wolves whites used against Michigan in 2017 are great, but that’s fine. Yet another comeback win against Michigan, this one game thanks to Dwayne Haskins coming off the bench after J.T. Barrett re-injured his knee. The now-infamous segment with Michigan players mic’d up makes this victory all the sweeter.
Essentially just a white version of the gray unis against Penn State earlier in the year, these knock it out of the park. Instead of a bland black or gray number (like on the grays), these introduce a patterned black number. There is one more detail that I love, but more on that in the top selection.
• Oct. 5, 2019
• Ohio Stadium – Columbus, OH
• #4 Ohio State 34, #25 Michigan State 10 pic.twitter.com/gSL3InyLOt
— Ohio State Uniforms (@OSUniforms) October 11, 2019
This will likely ruffle some feathers but I shan’t be bothered. The best of the Ohio State alternate uniforms is the blackout edition. Easily. Initially debuted against Penn State in 2015, the Buckeyes rolled them out again in 2018 against Nebraska and 2019 against Michigan State. Ohio State is 3-0 in these games.
They used a similar template as the “Rivalry” with the reflective trim on the numbers, which has a neat effect when they play under the lights. Admittedly, they had noon kickoffs for their games against Nebraska and Sparty, so they lost their luster a bit, but they are still beautiful. The black helmets are what really make this look. I love the scarlet buckeye leaves (they used these for the “Land of the Wolves” looks as well). It’s a fun change of pace.
The black-on-black-on-black look is so much fun. The older fans whine that black isn’t a primary Ohio State color. While this is true, who cares? White isn’t and the Buckeyes wear white jerseys in half their games.
Which is Your Favorite? Should They Stop Using Alternates Altogether?
These rankings are subjective. These are just the Ohio State alternate uniforms that I’ve grown to love. Nothing beats the traditional scarlet or traditional white jerseys or the iconic silver bullet helmets, but it’s always fun to switch it up. Imagine how nice some of these are going to look in the new EA Sports College Football game!
The main arguments against using alternates are that 1. Alabama doesn’t do this, or 2. they are turning into Oregon. No, Alabama doesn’t switch it up, but that’s their choice. Their 18 National Championships are not due to the same crimson and white jerseys. The Buckeyes are not Oregon. Nobody is Oregon. So stop it.