Last night saw the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings for the 2016 season. The weekly unveiling of the rankings is probably a made for television event designed to build up interest more than anything. Most teams in the rankings have at least four games left to play. A lot can and will change in the next couple weeks.
That being said, it’s a data point we have to look at from the people who will actually decide who will make the playoffs and the New Year’s Six bowls. With that in mind, what do the first set of rankings mean for UNC?
Hey, UNC’s ranked!
While it was expected, the Tar Heels did feature in the first rankings, coming in at #21. Despite having just one loss at this point last year, Carolina did not appear in the first set of rankings in 2015. And when they did first show up in the rankings on November 10th, it was at #23. The tougher schedule in 2016 has hurt UNC by giving them a second loss by this date, but it’s also improved their overall résumé.
The Florida State win is pretty big.
Despite FSU having three losses, they still showed up in the rankings one spot below UNC. Considering that none of Carolina’s other wins came over currently ranked teams, if Florida State takes another loss at some point, that negatively could affect UNC’s résumé.
The loss to Georgia is also pretty big.
At the time, UNC’s loss in Atlanta was frustrating but understandable. A lot of UNC fans came away from that game frustrated with the play calling, and thinking that game was left of the table. However, at the time Georgia was still thought of as a pretty good team, and it didn’t seem like a bad loss. Since then, Georgia was varied between meh and bad, and that loss doesn’t look as understandable.
If UNC still lost but Georgia had even a fringe top 25 résumé, then UNC’s own résumé looks somewhat comparable to Oklahoma State, Utah, and Colorado. However, Georgia is not good and that loss doesn’t look great. It’s not as bad of a mark on UNC as last year’s loss to South Carolina was though.
UNC’s path to the New Year’s Six is probably ACC title or bust.
That was probably true before the rankings, but it definitely appears evident now. Even if the Tar Heels win out, it’s going to be difficult to jump that many teams with the remaining opponents on UNC’s schedule.
It’s tough to argue with UNC’s ranking.
There are certainly arguments to be had with the first set of rankings, but I’m not sure Carolina factors into them. It’s difficult to make too strong of an argument that Carolina has a better résumé than anyone ranked ahead of them. It may be lower than they are in the AP or Coaches’ Poll, but it seems fine. It’s only the first week of rankings, there’s still plenty of time to argue about UNC’s position in them should the Tar Heels keep winning.