The Army-Navy game is one of the greatest annual sporting traditions in America, and a fitting way to cap the 2014 college football regular season. This year's edition (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET on CBS) marks the 115th meeting between the two service academies in a rivalry that dates back to 1890.
Recently, the Army-Navy game has embraced a new tradition of introducing alternate, patriotic-themed gear. That will continue in dramatic fashion on Saturday when Navy unleashes its new "Don't Tread On Me" uniforms.
The rattlesnake emblem with the "Don't Tread on Me" slogan is famously associated with Revolutionary War-era America. A red-and-white striped "Don't Tread" flag was flown (we assume with intense pride) by the Continental Navy. All U.S. Navy ships flew the "Don't Tread On Me" -- as per an order in 2002 -- throughout the duration of the war on terrorism.
With that backstory as inspiration, Navy's wicked new Under Armour threads feature the rattleshake wrapped around the Navy "N" on the helmet and placement of 13 red-and-white stripes to signify the original American colonies.
Navy's latest getups could go down as one of the most patriotic uniforms ever unleashed. However, until we see the Midshipmen in action Saturday in order to make a more informed judgment, here are my most patriotic recent college football alternate uniforms power rankings:
5. Army (vs. Western Kentucky, 2013)
There have been countless helmet-logos-as-American-flags incarnations recently, so whatever cool alternate uniform unleashed by a service academy is decidedly more cool by default, because ... it's being done so by a service academy. Camo is just way too appropriate and we'd suggest a permanent move to such a look, but then that would prevent other alternate looks on a more epic scale (see No. 1).
4. Northwestern (vs. Michigan, 2013)
Northwestern toed the fine line between art and carnage with a special uniform designed to help create awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. The uniform drew criticism for making people feel uncomfortable over splattered red coloring that was interpreted as blood.
3. Navy (vs. Ohio State, 2014)
Navy opened this season in stellar fashion, pushing Ohio State to the brink of a monumental upset while wearing some of the best uniforms ever created. The uniform was designed to mimic the Navy's Summer Whites military uniform. The helmet featured an anchor, and stripes along the shoulder pads and pants were used to identify a player's rank in the Naval Academy.
2. Maryland (vs. West Virginia, 2014)
The outline of Fort McHenry colored with the American flag serves as the helmet logo, and words from Francis Scott Key's poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" grace the helmet shell and jersey sleeves. This is all made to honor the 200th anniversary of the British forces' bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, which took place from Sept. 12-15, 1814, and the dramatic anthem it inspired.
1. Army (vs. Navy, 2012)
The 113th meeting of the Army and Navy football teams featured a Black Knights uniform that commemorated the Battle of the Bulge, a seminal moment toward ultimate victory in the European theater of World War II. Emblazoned through the players' jersey numbers was a map of the region in which the German offensive and Allied counteroffensive took place. Each map featured detailed typography, unit identification and troop movements. These uniforms are awe-inspiring on an epic scale. These Army uniforms aren't just the greatest of the college football patriotic alternate uniforms, but arguably the greatest college football alternate uniform of all time.