Illinois football 100th anniversary helmets ranked from best to worst

The 100th anniversity of Memorial Stadium is this season, and the Illinois football program unleashed a new set of helmets
Penn State v Illinois
Penn State v Illinois / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages

Illinois football came out with a line of new old stock helmets for the upcoming 100th anniversary of Memorial Stadium.

For years, I have been clamoring for the Illini to bring back, at least for a game or two, some of the older-style helmets. This throwback would be fun because the old helmets, and uniforms for that matter, have a cool vintage look and it would be fun to see again.

Illinois was just waiting for the right time, and the right time was the 2024 season. They are unleashing three of the old-school helmets; the 1960s-era helmet with the numbers and the four stars, the 1980s-era helmet with the word Illini arched across the side, and the classic 1990s and 2000s-era helmet with a sleek underlined Illinois across the side.

Which one is the best, though? All are great, and I am excited to see the helmets in action, but let’s rate best to worst.

Illinois football 100th anniversary helmets rated from best to worst

Illinois football
Oct 1964; Evanston, IL, USA; FILE PHOTO; Illinois Illiini linebacker (50) Dick Butkus in action against the Northwestern Wildcats. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports / Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Four Stars Helmet

I know this is a bit shocking. I grew up with the underlined Illinois helmet, but I can’t go with that one as the best. I think the big number on the side of the helmet with four stars arching over the top takes the cake.

When I watch old-school Dick Butkus reels, he is wearing this helmet. It was a time when Illinois football was one of the best teams in the Big Ten. We won a Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl with this helmet.

The overall aesthetic is pretty cool too. It is clean and historical. I like the Four Stars helmet the best.

Illinois football
September 5, 2009; St. Louis, MO, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Juice Williams (7) passes the ball during the first half against the Missouri Tigers at the Edward Jones Dome. Missouri defeated Illinois 37-9. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Underlined Illinois Helmet

Growing up watching Illinois was special for me. These were the helmets when my fandom was developing and throughout much of my life.

There were some great moments for the Illinois football team wearing these helmets. Kurt Kittner and Co. leading Illinois to the Sugar Bowl. Watching Juice Williams tear up No. 1 Ohio State. These were great times for the program.

It is a great look on the side of the helmets. It has tinges of the New York Giants logo from the 1980s.

Illinois football
Illinois Fighting Illini v Pittsburgh Panthers / George Gojkovich/GettyImages

No. 3 Arched Illini Helmet

Again, none of these helmets are bad. I love that we are bringing back all old-school Illinois helmets. I think the Arched Illini helmet is the worst out of the bunch, though.

This helmet had some big moments in the 1980s. We made the Rose Bowl and won the Big Ten wearing these helmets. They look old, and I like that about this logo.

It is by far the ugliest of the three helmet stickers, though. That is the only negative thing I have to say about it. But overall, I am excited to see these three helmets in action.

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