Carolina was ranked 21st on the poll's preseason edition and eventually fell to No. 24 when the offense struggled against UConn. The re-emerging offense powered past the Pirates Saturday en route to a 433-yard performance.
The Tar Heels reached No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
UNC travels to Atlanta next week to face Georgia Tech, which fell from No. 14 to unranked status after the Yellow Jackets lost to Miami 33-17 Thursday.
ACC teams Miami, Virginia Tech and Florida State also made the poll. The Hurricanes and Hokies meet Saturday and, combined with the UNC-Georgia Tech game, will play a significant role determining the Coastal Division champion.
The 'Canes already hold a tiebreaker win over the Yellow Jackets and a victory over the Hokies would give them a 3-0 start in league play -- a tough obstacle for UNC to match.
If Oklahoma remains ranked in the fourth week of the season, Miami will consecutively face four ranked opponents.