Streaking Tar Heels leap to No. 5 in AP poll

By R.L. Bynum
@RL_Bynum

Some wondered when North Carolina entered the top 10 in the Associated Press poll last week if the Tar Heels’ rank was a little high. After an impressive victory over Virginia Tech, there are fewer skeptics and more poll voters are taking notice.

UNC jumped three spots and is No. 5 in the latest AP poll released on Sunday after a 56–45 home victory Saturday over the Hokies, who fell two slots to No. 21. The Tar Heels have won their last six games, the longest streak since winning 11 in a row in 2015.

That’s the highest rank in the AP poll since UNC was No. 5 on Oct. 30 and Nov. 8 in 1997, the final season of Coach Mack Brown’s first coaching stint in Chapel Hill.

“It’s fun. It’s good for recruiting it’s good for our fans to do have some bragging rights and we haven’t been rated for a long time,” Brown said Monday. “Really, I’ve always told the players until the college football playoff polls come out probably be in November this year that that’s the first time I even look at the polls.”

The first College Football Playoff rankings don’t come out until Nov. 17. UNC is No. 6 in the coaches poll, up three spots. The Tar Heels are No. 9 in ESPN’s SP+ rankings.

The ACC has three teams in the top 5 for the first time in league history with No. 1 Clemson, No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 North Carolina.

Brown likes being in the top 10 “neighborhood” and earning their right to be there.

“We talked to the guys about how we need to buy a house in this neighborhood,” Brown said. “We haven’t been here much. We’ve been visiting the first couple of weeks in the top 10. But that’s like we want to be. But have we earned it yet? And that’s what we talked to them about each week.”

North Carolina coach Mack Brown has the Tar Heels in the top 5 again just like in the last season of his first coaching stint in Chapel Hill.

Two teams ahead of the Tar Heels in last week’s poll lost: Miami (was No. 7 and now No. 13 after a road loss to No. 1 Clemson) and Florida (No. 4 last week but now No. 10 after a 41-38 loss to Texas A&M).

Half the teams ahead of UNC in this week’s poll play each other with No. 3 Georgia visiting No. 2 Alabama. No. 1 Clemson plays at Georgia Tech and No. 4 Notre Dame is at home against Louisville.

All of the North Carolina voters in the panel put UNC in their top 10: Conor O’Neill, a correspondent for The News & Observer, had the Tar Heels No. 9, Jonas Pope IV of The N&O voted UNC No. 5 and Lauren Brownlow of WRALSportsfan.com put UNC at No. 8.

Voting UNC the highest at No. 4 was Brooks Kubena of The Advocate of Baton Rouge, La. Voting the Tar Heels the lowest at No. 12 were Nate Mink of the Syracuse Media Group and Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash.

LSU became the first reigning national champion to fall out of the poll in nine years.

The Tar Heels are early 10-point favorites at Florida State on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in a game to be televised by ABC.

Associated Press Top 25

RankTeamPV RankConferencePoints
1Clemson (4-0)1ACC1,546 (59)
2Alabama (3-0)2SEC1,463 (2)
3Georgia (3-0)3SEC1,430 (1)
4Notre Dame (3-0)5ACC1,317
5North Carolina (3-0)8ACC1,190
6Ohio State (0-0)6Big Ten1,152
7Oklahoma State (3-0)10Big 121,069
8Cincinnati (3-0)11American Athletic971
9Penn State (0-0)9Big Ten970
10Florida (2-1)4SEC904
11Texas A&M (2-1)21SEC883
12Oregon (0-0)12Pac-12817
13Miami (3-1)7ACC790
14Auburn (2-1)13SEC703
15Brigham Young (4-0)15IA Independents693
16Wisconsin (0-0)16Big Ten633
17SMU (4-0)18American Athletic522
18Tennessee (2-1)14SEC463
19Michigan (0-0)20Big Ten417
20Iowa State (3-1)24Big 12405
21Louisiana-Lafayette (3-0)23Sun Belt342
22Kansas State (3-1)Big 12302
23Virginia Tech (2-1)19ACC199
24Minnesota (0-0)25Big Ten177
25USC (0-0)Pac-12124

Others receiving votes:Marshall 106, North Carolina State 87, Oklahoma 71, Tulsa 62, UCF 57, Boston College 43, Coastal Carolina 38, UAB 29, Utah 29, Iowa 28, West Virginia 25, Army 21, Memphis 12, Air Force 12, Ole Miss 6, Arizona State 6, Texas 5, Houston 5, LSU 5, Washington 4, Missouri 2, TCU 2, Virginia 2, Louisiana Tech 2, Indiana 1.

Point values in parentheses indicate the number of first place votes.

ACC teams in bold.

Pool photos by Robert Willett

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