The new polls are out with Duke climbing to 21st in the Coaches Poll and 23rd in the AP Poll during the bye week. Clemson still sits grossly underrated at 6th in both polls, but picked up a well-deserved first place vote in the AP. The other big news … 5-1 Pitt makes an appearance ahead of 5-1 North Carolina, and while the Heels are in the “also receiving votes” section again after destroying Wake Forest, the media members who cover the team are much higher on UNC than voters are at this point.
Larry Fedora’s squad sits 29th in total votes in each poll, but with a sizable gap between their point totals and the totals of the 25th ranked team on each list.
So what will it take for UNC to reach the top 25? If the voters are concerned with UNC’s schedule, that’s not going to change this weekend with a matchup against Virginia. This is a unique schedule for the Heels as the back half of the year has historically been much softer than the opening six games. Last year, for example, Carolina didn’t face a team with a losing season-long record until October 25th. This year, they’ve faced two FCS teams and three other teams who have already combined for a total of 13 losses. Because of the loaded home stretch, there’s an opportunity to earn the ranking on the field with games coming up against Pitt, Duke, and Miami.
So the answer? Patience and results. It’s been six years since UNC played their way into the national polls, joining the AP Top 25 at #23 in week 13 after a win against Boston College before dropping out the following week after losing to NC State. The Heels have been ranked for three weeks since, with two of those weeks occurring in the pre-season. Opportunities loom on the schedule, and it’s likely going to take quality wins to get there as the bottom of the polls are littered with Group of Five teams who have skated through the difficult parts of their schedules already.
|1||Ohio State (45)||Ohio State (28)|
|2||Baylor (12)||Baylor (12)|
|3||TCU (4)||Utah (16)|
|4||Michigan State||TCU (3)|
|5||LSU (1)||LSU (1)|
|7||Utah (1)||Michigan State|
|9||Florida State||Florida State|
|15||Oklahoma||Texas A&M (T-15)|
|16||Texas A&M||Michigan (T-15)|