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Photos: The 4 most patriotic alternate uniforms from the last decade of college football

A few seasons ago, the patriotic trend hit college football uniforms, helmets, and logos hard, and with the 4th of July tomorrow, I decided to take a look at some of the best ones that have hit the field over the last 10 years.

For the past several years, normally right around Veteran's Day (November 11th) or in the name of a military appreciation game, many college football programs have chosen to pay tribute with an alternate uniform featuring red, white and blue, or at the very least laying the colors of the flag into their logo.

Here are just a few examples teams have used.

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 5: Detail view of special American flag decal worn on the Iowa Hawkeyes helmets before the game against the at Michigan Wolverines at Kinnick Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 24-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

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September 10, 2011; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers running back Bobby Rainey (3) stiff arms Navy Midshipmen linebacker Mason Graham (42) during the first half of play at Houchens Industries L.T. Smith Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

All those are great in their own respect, but the purpose of this article is to take a look at the programs that have gone above and beyond. The programs that have fully embraced the patriotic red, white and blue and allowed it to become their identity for a weekend in the fall.

With that in mind, I think these five programs honored the USA better than anyone else with their alternate uniforms, or helmets, or in some cases - both.

2013 Northwestern (vs. Michigan)

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If patriotic uniforms had a mold, Northwestern broke it in 2013 when it came out with these bold and proud stars and stripes unis. In my opinion, these alternate unis are the ones that took the top off the defense and opened up the door of creativity that a lot of other programs have since taken advantage of.

Nov 16, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) wears the wounded warrior uniform before the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 16, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) wears the wounded warrior uniform before the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

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NorthwesternPatrioticUnis1

Maryland 2014 (vs. West Virginia)

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Maryland may not have started the alternate uniform craze, but they certainly made the biggest splash with their Maryland Pride uniforms (circa 2011). A few years later they debuted these well thought out and executed "Star Spangled Banner" inspired uniforms where the lyrics are proudly on display via the helmet and sleeves. While the helmet logo may resemble a Terp at first glance, it's actually Fort McHenry upon closer examination.

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Army's digital camo head-to-toe unis (2010), and Navy's hand-painted, position specific ship helmets (2015)

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Having to pick between these two made me feel un-American, so I decided to include them both rolled into one. As for Army, I would have been a HUGE fan if these digital camo unis had been adopted as their permanent uniform moving forward. I thought it then, and I believe it today, it was (and remains) a perfect tribute to the men and women who serve our great country. Switching gears to the Navy helmets, those beautiful lids are literally art on helmets, and the fact that each position group got their own unique helmet is an exercise in creativity that the sport had never seen before. I know I am not alone when I say those Navy lids these are my all-time favorite alternate helmets ever worn on a college football field.

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With fall not too far away, it will be interesting to see what teams roll out to honor our great country in 2017.