Carolina No. 17 in the first College Football Playoff rankings

By R.L. Bynum

The streaking Carolina football team is No. 17 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, released on Tuesday night, the 13th time the Tar Heels have made the ranking and the third time they’ve made the initial rankings.

The Tar Heels, ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25 and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, were last in the CFP ranking as the No. 13 team on selection day Dec. 20, 2020, when they earned a berth in the Orange Bowl.

That season, UNC’s first major bowl berth since the 1950 Cotton Bowl, the Tar Heels lost to Texas A&M 41–21.

Two ESPN analysts project Carolina to return to the Orange Bowl, with Kyle Bonagura predicting a matchup against Alabama and Mark Schlabach having them meeting Illinois.

The updated CFP rankings will be announced on ESPN every Tuesday at 7 p.m. (except on Nov. 15 when it will be announced around 9 p.m. after the first Champions Classic men’s basketball game between Kentucky and Michigan State), before the final selection day rankings are announced on ESPN at noon on Sunday, Dec. 4.

Selection day is the day after the Dec. 3 ACC championship game in Charlotte, which appears likely to pit UNC (7–1, 4–1 ACC) against Clemson (8–0, 6–0), which is No. 4 in the CFP rankings.

Other ACC teams in the rankings are Syracuse at No. 20, Wake Forest at No. 21 and N.C. State at No. 22. It’s the first time three of the ACC’s North Carolina teams have made the CFP rankings.

All of the ACC teams have the same CFP rank as AP rank except the Tigers, who are No. 5 in the AP poll.

Tennessee (No. 2 in the AP poll), tops the CFP rankings, followed by No. 2 Ohio State (tied for No. 2 in the AP poll), No. 3 Georgia (No. 1 in the AP poll) and Clemson. Michigan is No. 4 in the AP poll but No. 5 in the CFP rankings.

This is the ninth season of the College Football Playoff, which began for the 2014 season. Clemson and Notre Dame are the only ACC teams to have made the four-team field.

The Tigers made the field for the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons, winning the titles in the 2016 and 2018 seasons and losing in the championship games after the 2015 and 2019 seasons. In 2020, the only season that Notre Dame competed for the ACC title, it made the field.

The only ACC schools that have appeared in the CFP rankings for more weeks than UNC are Clemson (46), Florida State (19) and N.C. State (17). The other ACC teams to have made the rankings are Miami (11 weeks), Louisville (11), Virginia Tech (10), Pittsburgh (9), Wake Forest (8), Georgia Tech (6), Syracuse (7), Duke (3) and Virginia (3).

N.C. State athletics director Boo Corrigan is the chairman of the CFP selection committee, which includes former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe.

Carolina’s highest all-time appearance in the CFP rankings was No. 10 on consecutive weeks in the 2015 season, on Dec. 1 and on Dec. 6, with the latter being on selection day. Carolina didn’t make the rankings until the second week, debuting at No. 23.


UNC went 11–3 that season, losing to Baylor in a Dec. 30 bowl game in Orlando.

The Tar Heels made the CFP rankings five times in both 2015 and 2020 and twice in 2016.

Carolina was No. 21 in the first ranking on Nov. 1 in the 2016 season at No. 21. The Tar Heels came in at No. 17 in the second week but didn’t appear in the rankings again that season after a 28–27 Nov. 10 loss at Duke.

UNC went 8–5 in 2016, losing three of its last four games, including a 25–23 defeat against Stanford in the Sun Bowl.

Carolina’s CFP ranking history

2015 season
Nov. 10 (second ranking) — No. 23
Nov. 17 — No. 17
Nov. 24 — No. 14
Dec. 1 — No. 10
Dec. 6 (selection day) — No. 10
2016 season
Nov. 1 (first ranking) — No. 21
Nov. 8 — No. 17
2020 season
Nov. 24 (first ranking) — No. 19
Dec. 1 — No. 17
Dec. 8 — No. 17
Dec. 15 — No. 15
Dec. 20 (selection day) — No. 13
2022 season
Nov. 1 (first ranking) — No. 17

First 2022 CFP rankings

2Ohio State8–0
9Southern California7–1
13Kansas State6–2
15Penn State6–2
17North Carolina7–1
18Oklahoma State6–2
21Wake Forest6–2
22N.C. State6–2
23Oregon State6–2
25Central Florida6–2

(current rank)
27SaturdayW, 56–24HomeFlorida A&M1–0
3SaturdayW, 63–61BooneAppalachian State2–0
10SaturdayW, 35–28AtlantaGeorgia State 3–0
24SaturdayL, 45–32HomeNo. 19
Notre Dame
1SaturdayW, 41–10HomeVirginia Tech 4–1, 1–0 ACC
8SaturdayW, 27–24Miami
Gardens, Fla.
Miami 5–1, 2–0 ACC
15SaturdayW, 38–35DurhamDuke6–1, 3–0 ACC
29SaturdayW, 42–24HomePittsburgh7–1, 4–0 ACC
5SaturdayW, 31–28CharlottesvilleVirginia8–1, 5–0 ACC
12SaturdayW, 36–34Winston-SalemWake Forest 9–1, 6–0 ACC
19SaturdayL, 21–17HomeGeorgia Tech 9–2, 6–1 ACC
25FridayL, 30–27,
2 OTs
HomeNo. 25 N.C. State 9–3, 6–2 ACC
DecemberACC championship
3SaturdayL, 39–10CharlotteNo. 10 Clemson9–4
Holiday Bowl
28WednesdayL, 28–27San DiegoNo. 15 Oregon9–5

Photo via @UNCFootball


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