Tar Heels fall to No. 15, extend longest top 15 streak in 12 years

By R.L. Bynum

Even with a decisive victory over a ranked team, there didn’t figure to be much movement in the AP Top 25 poll for North Carolina considering that only one team ahead of the Tar Heels in last week’s poll lost.

Wisconsin created movement though, and in the wrong direction.

After the Tar Heels’ 48–21 victory Saturday over then-No. 23 N.C. State (4–2, 4–2 ACC), they fell one spot to No. 15. The 36–35 overtime road loss by then-No. 8 Penn State to unranked Indiana accounted for the only team ahead of UNC in last week’s poll to lose.

Wisconsin, which was tied with UNC at No. 14 in last week’s poll, moved up to No. 9 after the Badgers’ 46–7 victory over unranked Illinois. Penn State fell to No. 18.

The stay in the Top 25 was brief for the Wolfpack, which was dropped from this week’s poll and didn’t even get any votes. Virginia Tech, which was No. 19 before its 23–16 road loss to Wake Forest, also is out of the poll with no votes.

The ACC went from having the most ranked teams last week with six to only four this week. The Big Ten leads the way with five and the SEC and Big 12 also have four in the poll.

Seven consecutive weeks in the top 15 are the most since UNC (4–1, 4–1) was in the top 15 for 23 consecutive games from Sept. 21, 1996, to Sept. 5, 1998. All but the last two games were during Coach Mack Brown’s first stint at Carolina.

UNC stayed at No. 13 in the coaches poll and both Virginia Tech and N.C. State dropped out of that poll. Penn State fell to No. 17 and Wisconsin leapfrogged the Tar Heels, going from No. 14 to No. 11.

One AP poll voter who was impressed by the Tar Heels’ win over the Wolfpack was Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star, who had UNC No. 8 on his ballot after ranking it No. 12 the previous week.

Also voting Carolina in the top 10 were Aaron McMann (No. 9) of MLive in Ann Arbor, Mich., Neil Ostrout (No. 10) of the Journal Inquirer of Manchester, Conn., and Tom Green (No. 10.) of the Opelika-Auburn News of Opelika, Ala.

Jonas Pope IV, the N.C. State beat writer for The News & Observer, ranked UNC the highest of the three North Carolina voters at No. 14. Lauren Brownlow of WRALSportsfan.com and Conor O’Neill, a correspondent for The N&O, both have the Tar Heels No. 15 on their ballots.

The Tar Heels visit unranked Virginia (1–4, 1–4) at 8 p.m. Thursday in a game that will air on ACC Network. Carolina opened as a 4-point favorite. The lone victory this season for the Cavaliers, who lost at Miami on Saturday, is against Duke (1–5, 1–5).

AP Top 25

1Clemson (6-0)1ACC1,539 (52)
2Alabama (5-0)2SEC1,494 (10)
3Ohio State (1-0)5Big Ten1,402
4Notre Dame (5-0)3ACC1,353
5Georgia (3-1)4SEC1,292
6Oklahoma State (4-0)6Big 121,201
7Cincinnati (3-0)9American Athletic1,100
8Texas A&M (3-1)7SEC1,094
9Wisconsin (1-0)14Big Ten950
10Florida (2-1)10SEC933
11Brigham Young (5-0)12IA Independents906
12Miami (FL) (4-1)11ACC888
13Michigan (0-0)18Big Ten839
14Oregon (0-0)13Pac-12784
15North Carolina (4-1)14ACC758
16Kansas State (4-1)20Big 12562
17Indiana (1-0)Big Ten466
18Penn State (0-1)8Big Ten443
19Marshall (5-0)22Conference USA379
20Coastal Carolina (5-0)25Sun Belt282
21USC (0-0)24Pac-12243
22SMU (5-0)16American Athletic208
23Iowa State (3-2)17Big 12205
24Oklahoma (3-2)Big 12155
25Boise State (1-0)Mountain West113

Others receiving votes: Memphis 105, Liberty 85, Tulsa 80, Louisiana-Lafayette 50, Army 44, Auburn 41, Minnesota 40, Utah 36, Northwestern 20, Washington 15, Arkansas 15, Purdue 8, Arizona State 7, Appalachian State 6, California 4, Boston College 2, Texas 2, San Diego State 1.

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

Pool photo by Robert Willett

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