How Has UNC Football Done When Starting the Season Ranked?

How Has UNC Football Done When Starting the Season Ranked?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

It’s been nearly a decade since the UNC Tar Heels last won at least 10 games in a football season, but there’s hope that 2023 could be the year in Chapel Hill, one that could vault the program higher in the new pending era of North Carolina sports betting.

In the fifth year of head coach Mack Brown’s second stint with the school, the Tar Heels are among the top ACC favorites. 

Don't forget, is your home to all UNC college football futures.

With UNC entering the 2023 season ranked No. 21 in the AP poll, took a look at every season the Tar Heels began ranked and how they ultimately finished. 

Past UNC AP Rankings And Final Records

YearPreseason RankFinal RecordFinal Rank

UNC Has Checkered Past With AP Preseason Poll

In the 20 previous instances where UNC was ranked inside the preseason top-25, the Tar Heels wound up unranked 14 times, showing how many unknowns there are in the preseason of a given college football campaign. A precarious number to remember ahead of the launch of NC betting apps next year as well.

The Tar Heels best season as a ranked team came in 1997, when Brown led UNC to an 11-1 campaign in his final season with the school before taking over at Texas, leading the school to the Gator Bowl before resigning to leave for Austin.  

Fast forward more than a quarter century and Brown is back in Chapel Hill and looking to get UNC over the hump after going 30-22 in his first four years back at the school.  

Given the Tar Heels preseason win total over/under of 8 on BetMGM Sportsbook NC, it seems like oddsmakers expect UNC to finish somewhere around where they have in the 20 previous instances where the program was ranked in the preseason poll.  

That’s because UNC has averaged 7.35 wins per season in the 20 previous instances where they were in the preseason poll, with that 1997 high of 11 wins and a low of 3 victories in 1950 being the outliers in either direction.  

The Tar Heels will look to turn the corner this fall, starting with the school’s opener against South Carolina in Charlotte on Sept. 9. That game will also mark the start of quarterback Drake Maye's potential ride to the No. 1 overall draft pick in the NFL next year. You can keep tabs on the Drake Maye odds here.



Christopher Boan

Christopher Boan is a lead writer at specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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