TarHeelIllustrated - No. 2: 1948
football Edit

No. 2: 1948

Our series ranking the 20 best UNC football teams of all time continues with the 1948 Tar Heels.
Our series ranking the 20 best UNC football teams of all time continues with the 1948 Tar Heels. (UNC Communications)

Our series ranking the 20 best UNC football teams of all time continues today. Once this series concludes, we will rank the best UNC basketball teams of all time:



No. 2: 1948

Record: 9-1-1 (4-0-1 Southern Conference)

Bowl: Sugar Bowl, lost 14-6 to Oklahoma

Ranking: 3

Coach: Carl Snavely

All-Americans: Charlie Justice (TB); Len Szafaryn (T); Art Weiner (E)

Honors: Charlie Justice, runner-up Heisman Trophy; Maxwell Award Winner

What's To Know: The Tar Heels opened with powerhouse programs Texas and Georgia, both of which had fine seasons in 1948, and also played LSU, Tennessee and four of the Southern Conference's other top six teams. Carolina beat the Longhorns by 27 points and a week later won in Athens, GA. They walloped LSU, held Tennessee to a touchdown, creamed Maryland, Duke and Wake Forest, but tied William & Mary and eventually lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Only four teams scored in double figures against the Heels, while two - Duke and N.C. State - failed to score. The No. 2 team in the nation in the initial poll for 1948, this is the only UNC team that reached No. 1 in the AP rankings, which happened the week of Oct. 11. Carolina dropped no lower than No. 6 on Nov. 8 and spent more weeks at No. 3 (four) than any other slot.

For a half-century, this was the best team in Carolina football history. It had everything a team could need or want during its run. In this season, Justice finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, coming behind Doak Walker of SMU. Justice was well ahead of others receiving votes, such as Chuck Bednarik, Jackie Jensen, and Norm Van Brocklin. Justice was the runner-up in 1949, too, even though the Tar Heels weren't as powerful as they were in '48.

"Choo Choo," Weiner and company could make a strong argument they should stand on top.


1949 NFL Draft

3rd Rnd: Len Szafaryn, OL, DT, Redskins

8th Rnd: Mike Rubish, N.Y. Bulldogs

8th Rnd: Bob Kennedy, DB, HB, Redskins

19th Rnd: Bob Mitten, G, Bears

20th Rnd: Joe Romano, T, Lions

23rd Rnd: Bob Cox, E, Cardinals

25th Rnd: Stan Marczyk, T, Bears


1948 Results