Updated: Jan 21
With the 2019 season coming to a wrap on Monday night with LSU’s national championship victory over, speculation for the 2020 college football season has already begun. Multiple outlets have already released their way-too-early top 25, almost all of which have contained a Tar Heels that will 17 starters from the 2019 squad that finished the season with three straight wins and a ton of positive momentum.
Sports Illustrated is the publication that ranks the Tar Heels the highest, as they place them 19th in the rankings. The Sporting News places the Tar Heels 21st, while Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Stadium and The Athletic all place the team as the 22nd best team in the country. ESPN has them at 23rd, while CBS Sports, USA Today and Yahoo Sports all place the Tar Heels in 25th.
While the rankings may be all over the board, they all have the team in the top 25, projections that would have the Tar Heels preseason ranked for the first time since 2016. Led by an offense that will return everyone but left tackle Charlie Heck and a defense that should be able to take another step forward with another offseason to build more depth and familiarity with the Jay Bateman system, the Tar Heels have emerged as the early favorite to win the ACC Coastal and one of the best chances to slow down what is expected to be a brutal revenge tour for the Clemson Tigers in Trevor Lawrence’s final season with the team.
When Mack Brown returned to Chapel Hill, we figured that the Tar Heels would be faced with these types of expectations at some point during his five year contract. However, I don’t think many imagined that those type of expectations would be on the table in year two, but now it’s time to see if this team is ready to handle the expectations that they’ll have to navigate to get where they eventually want and can be under Mack Brown.