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UNC Football: Will the 2020 team break a four-year streak?

It’s been a while since the Tar Heels played in a game between two ranked teams.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at North Carolina Pool Photo

If North Carolina and Virginia Tech take care of business in their upcoming games against Boston College and Duke respectively, they both will likely be ranked when the two are scheduled to meet on October 10th.

It wouldn’t be the first big or important game the Tar Heels have played in the past couple years, but it would be a first in several seasons. While they themselves made an appearance in the top 25 after this game, UNC hasn’t been part of an all top 25 matchup since the 2016 season opener against Georgia.

In general, all top 25 matchups have been a rarity for the Tar Heels since the first Mack Brown era. Since the end of the 1997 season, have played in six such games. They’ve won just one of them, a 2008 victory over #22 Georgia Tech when the Heels were #21.

Brown’s first tenure in Chapel Hill was the heyday of UNC playing in that type of marquee matchup. From 1992 to ‘97, they played in 14 all top 25 matchups in the regular season alone. That is not only way more than how many the Heels have played in since, it’s not far off how many they took part in the decades before Brown came.

If something happens and the Virginia Tech game doesn’t end up as an all ranked one, UNC will have other chances to play in such a game.

If the Hokies lose between now and then, Virginia isn’t terribly far off getting ranked themselves, as they are one of the highest vote getters outside the top 25. If things play out right, the teams’ Halloween game could be an all-ranked one.

If UNC fall out of the rankings in the next couple weeks, they will have other chances, provided they play their way back into the top 25. They have late season matchups against Notre Dame and Miami, who have both looked pretty good so far in this young season. Either way, if UNC plays up to potential, there’s a decent chance they’ll take part in one at some point this season.

UNC staying ranked and putting up wins is the important part of this equation. If they do that, they’ll play in important games no matter who their opponent is.

However, the reason this stood out as something to highlight is that, as mentioned, it’s been a while since they’ve played in one. The possibility of a ranked UNC doing battle against another ranked team would mark a return of marquee football games to the school. The second Mack Brown era has seen an uptick on the field and an uptick in recruiting. Continuing to get noticed and playing in these type of games can only help. Here’s to it happening soon.