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November 20, 2012

Ohio State rivalry uniforms revealed

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Something will stand out about the images captured from this weekend's Ohio State-Michigan game. And it won't just be the historical context in which the photos are taken.

For the fourth time in as many years, the Buckeyes will wear one-time only Nike alternate jerseys, helmets, pants, shoes, and gloves, with this year's model being referred to as a "rivalry" uniform.

The uniforms, which were revealed at Ohio State's "Beat Blue" student pep rally on Monday, are a tribute to the Buckeyes' 1967 outfits that were worn by OSU's 1968 national championship team.

The uniforms that the Buckeyes will wear on Saturday will feature larger than usual gray numbers on the front, back, and shoulders, with wide gray piping down the jersey's side and a black stripe around its sleeves. The striping down the Buckeyes' helmets is also exaggerated, and will be placed on a dull, reflective, chrome helmet.

Using the same Nike flywire material that is now used on NFL jerseys, seven Buckeye leaves will be featured on the back of the jersey's collar, representing the seven national championships that the Ohio State program has won. And for the first time in OSU's history with the Nike Rivalry series, players' names will be featured on the backs of the jerseys.

Having coached Florida teams in 2009 and 2010 that wore special Nike Pro Combat uniforms, Urban Meyer was supportive of the Buckeyes' new look, but said that its designs first had to meet the approval of current and former players alike.

"Nike met with us. I said just make sure this is O.K. with (former Ohio State running back) Archie Griffin and the former players. I don't want to start breaking traditions around here," Meyer said. "I told (Ohio State athletic director) Gene Smith 'I don't care what we wear just so we look really good and don't break tradition.'"

Saturday will mark the third time that the Buckeyes have worn special Nike uniforms while playing the Wolverines. In 2009, Ohio State defeated Michigan while wearing tribute uniforms for the 1954 Buckeyes, while in 2010 it did the same in jerseys that paid homage to the school's 1942 squad. Last season, the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin while wearing a Nike uniform set that was similar to the one that was used by OSU's 1961 team.

With a bowl ban in place, Saturday will mark this year's Buckeyes' 12th and final game of the season. Ohio State will look to cap off its sixth undefeated season in program history against Michigan, who enters The Game sporting an 8-3 record in its second season under head coach Brady Hoke.

Ohio State safety Orhian Johnson said that he's looking forward to the historical impact that his senior day could have on the OSU program, but said that he'll also take some time to appreciate his team's new threads.

"It's definitely exciting when you go into that locker room and you see a different uniform and you know you get to put it on. That's exciting, but once the ball is kicked off, you're pretty much focused on your assignments and trying to get everything down," Johnson said. "After the game you might look at it a little bit more."



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