In college sports, the University of North Carolina is known as a basketball school and has had a lot of success in the NCAA. This year, North Carolina’s football team is off to a strong start and is one of the top teams in NCAA football.
For the first time since 1997, North Carolina’s football team is ranked in the top five in college football.
A look at the success of the 1997 football team
About 21 years ago, North Carolina was one of the top football teams in the country. North Carolina came into the season as the No. 7 ranked team in the country. In the previous season, they finished with a 10-2 record and was the No. 10 team. They started the season off strong defeating Indiana 23-6. The next week they defeated a Stanford team that was ranked No. 17.
North Carolina went on to win their next six games to go on an eight-game winning streak. During the winning streak, they were ranked No. 4 in the country. After starting the season 8-0, North Carolina faced a tough challenge against a Florida State team ranked No. 3 at the time. North Carolina struggled against Florida State as they lost 20-3. After suffering their first loss of the season, North Carolina won their final two regular-season games, defeating Clemson and Duke.
North Carolina finished the regular season ranked No. 8. After the regular season finished, North Carolina played Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl and won 42-3. North Carolina finished the 1997 season with an 11-1 record and finished as the No. 6 ranked team. After the 1997 team, no North Carolina team has had a better record since then. The 2015 team did match the 1997 team in wins but finished the season with an 11-3 record.
The 2020 North Carolina football team off to an impressive start
Coming into the 2020 season, North Carolina was ranked No. 18. They finished the 2019 season with a 7-6 record and made a coaching change bringing Mack Brown back as head coach. Brown had a lot of successful years before when he was at North Carolina. In 1996 he led the team to a 10-2 finish, and in 1997 he led the team to a 10-1 record before being replaced before the Gator Bowl.
Now, Brown is back to lead North Carolina to success. North Carolina is off to a 3-0 start to the 2020 season and now are ranked No. 5 in the country. They make a significant jump from beginning the season ranked No. 18. There are currently two ACC teams ranked in the top five. Clemson is ranked No. 1, and North Carolina is ranked No. 5. North Carolina does not play Clemson during the regular season, but if they continue to have success and win out, they could potentially meet them in the ACC Championship Game.
It looks like North Carolina isn’t just a basketball school
With the success that North Carolina is having this season in football, they make a strong case that the football program can have success like the basketball team has had. Even though it’s early in the season, North Carolina is in the top five for football, and that shows how much they’re respected in college football.
If North Carolina can make it to the College Football Playoffs, that’ll change the football program’s culture in Chapel Hill. Mack Brown is quickly turning the football program around, and he’s the right person to do so especially given his recent history with the football program. North Carolina is a team to watch for this season.