By R.L. Bynum

Just two weeks ago, North Carolina was ranked No. 5 in the country and had visions of making the College Football Playoff and a New Year’s Six bowl game.

After a pair of poor defensive efforts on the road and failed comeback attempts, the Tar Heels went from No. 15 to out of the poll with the 28th-most poll points. This comes a day after Saturday’s 47–44 loss at unranked Virginia. UNC’s previous lowest spot was No. 18 in the preseason poll.

UNC fell 11 spots from No. 13 to No. 24 in the coaches poll.

Even with two league losses, Carolina would still make the ACC championship game should it go undefeated the rest of the regular season if No. 1 Clemson beats No. 4 Notre Dame on Saturday night at 7:30.

ACC leaders
Conf. All
Clemson 6–0 7–0
Notre Dame 5–1 6–0
Miami 4–1 5–1
North Carolina 4–2 4–2
Virginia Tech 4–2 4–2
N.C. State 4–2 4–2
Wake Forest 3–2 4–2

That’s because that would mean victories over Notre Dame and Miami (which both would have at least two losses, with UNC winning the tiebreaker). Virginia Tech and N.C. State both have two losses but would lose a tiebreaker since one of those defeats in both cases was to the Tar Heels. Wake Forest has two losses but visits UNC on Nov. 14.

Getting there starts with needing to win at Duke (2–5, 1–5 ACC) at noon Saturday (ESPN2). The Tar Heels are early 10-point favorites.

All of that gets dicey if Notre Dame beats Clemson, though, since its other remaining games in addition to UNC are against Boston College, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

Ranking UNC the highest in the AP poll at No. 15 is Aaron McMann of MLive in Ann Arbor, Mich., who had Carolina No. 9 last week. There were 44 voters who left the Tar Heels off their ballots, including all three North Carolina voters.

AP Top 25

ANK   TEAM PV RANK CONFERENCE POINTS  
1   Clemson (7-0) 1 ACC 1,515 (33)  
2   Alabama (6-0) 2 SEC 1,513 (29)  
3   Ohio State (2-0) 3 Big Ten 1,430  
 
4   Notre Dame (6-0) 4 ACC 1,351  
5   Georgia (4-1) 5 SEC 1,289  
6   Cincinnati (5-0) 7 American Athletic 1,199  
7   Texas A&M (4-1) 8 SEC 1,156  
8   Florida (3-1) 10 SEC 1,066  
 
9   Brigham Young (7-0) 11 IA Independents 1,014  
10   Wisconsin (1-0) 9 Big Ten 985  
11   Miami (FL) (5-1) 12 ACC 946  
12   Oregon (0-0) 14 Pac-12 831  
13   Indiana (2-0) 17 Big Ten 765  
14   Oklahoma State (4-1) 6 Big 12 760  
15   Coastal Carolina (6-0) 20 Sun Belt 527  
16   Marshall (5-0) 19 Conference USA 523  
17   Iowa State (4-2) 23 Big 12 427  
18   SMU (6-1) 22 American Athletic 420  
 
19   Oklahoma (4-2) 24 Big 12 405  
20   USC (0-0) 21 Pac-12 354  
21   Boise State (2-0) 25 Mountain West 336  
22   Texas (4-2)   Big 12 190  
23   Michigan (1-1) 13 Big Ten 151  
24   Auburn (4-2)   SEC 144  
25   Liberty (6-0)   IA Independents 118  

Others receiving votes: Northwestern 106, Louisiana-Lafayette 101, North Carolina 92, Penn State 87, Tulsa 73, Army 57, Kansas State 51, West Virginia 44, Utah 44, Washington 21, Purdue 15, Virginia Tech 11, San Diego State 8, Arizona State 7, Appalachian State 6, Wake Forest 5, Michigan State 4, California 3.

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

Pool photo by Andrew Shurtleff

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