CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -With help from Maryland, Miami now controls its own fate in the quest to win the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time.
The Hurricanes' most notable result of the season came Saturday, without Miami even taking the field. Maryland's 17-15 win over North Carolina dropped the Tar Heels a full game behind the Hurricanes in the ACC Coastal Division standings, leaving Miami alone in the top spot.
If Miami wins Thursday night at Georgia Tech and then Nov. 29 at North Carolina State, it is assured a berth in the ACC title game, to be held Dec. 6 in Tampa against the Atlantic Division champion.
``We all want to finish this thing and win the ACC championship and go to the Orange Bowl,'' Miami offensive lineman A.J. Trump said. ``But we know it's not over. It's like a playoff. We know we can't lose any more games.''
Miami actually could wrap up the division race next week if it beats the Yellow Jackets and gets some help, most notably the Tar Heels losing to rival North Carolina State.
But the standings could still get very messy if the Hurricanes slip.
If Miami loses either of its final two games, just about everyone else in the Coastal Division would have life. The top five teams in the six-team division are now separated by just one game, with Miami at 4-2 in ACC play, Georgia Tech at 4-3, and North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Virginia all at 3-3.
``One thing you know about the ACC is this: Everybody will always beat each other up,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said this past week.
The Hurricanes took Saturday off - many players gathered to watch the North Carolina-Maryland game - and will resume getting ready for Georgia Tech, which has won the last three meetings between the schools by a combined 14 points, on Sunday afternoon.
Miami wasn't the only team celebrating with the Terrapins on Saturday: Reigning ACC champion Virginia Tech, which lost by two points in Dolphin Stadium to the Hurricanes on Thursday night, also needed a Tar Heel loss to enhance its hopes of winning another title.
``Maryland has to beat North Carolina and Georgia Tech has to beat Miami,'' Hokies coach Frank Beamer said after Thursday's loss. ``That puts us back in it. There's a possibility, but we have to depend on somebody else.''
spot in the Orange Bowl.
Miami played what essentially amounted to an ACC championship game in 2004, its first year in the league, but lost at home to Virginia Tech 16-10 to close the regular season. That gave the Hokies the ACC crown and trip to the Bowl Championship Series, and the Hurricanes haven't been close to the title since.
``It's a nice feeling,'' Miami running back Javarris James said Thursday night. ``But we can't stop now.''
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