The ACC Coastal Division looks like it could be as competitive as ever, thanks in part to comeback wins by Georgia Tech and Miami in their conference openers.
One of those teams will have a leg up on the other in the race for the division title after this week.
Two of the Coastal's four ranked teams square off as the 14th-ranked Yellow Jackets visit the No. 20 Hurricanes on Thursday night.
The ACC doesn't have a powerhouse program that consistently competes for national championships, and the conference has won only two BCS bowl games since the inception of that system in 1998.
While the conference doesn't have a team ranked in the top 10, it appears to be as deep as it has been in years with four in the Top 25. All four are in the Coastal, which hasn't had more than two teams finish in the rankings since divisions were created prior to the 2005 season.
Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0) moved up one spot in the poll with last Thursday's 30-27 win over Clemson of the Atlantic Division, and Miami (1-0, 1-0) jumped into the Top 25 following its 38-34 victory over then-No. 18 Florida State on Sept. 7.
"The ACC is a tough conference," Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer said. "I don't know why everybody is putting us down. I think the Florida State-Miami game and the Clemson-Georgia Tech game showed how good the ACC really is."
The Yellow Jackets blew a 24-point lead against the Tigers before Scott Blair's 36-yard field goal with 57 seconds remaining sealed the victory. Blair also threw the first touchdown pass of his career on a fake field goal in the first quarter.
What could've turned into a devastating loss ended up being a valuable lesson for Georgia Tech.
"We know we can fight in the second half and win the game," said receiver Demaryius Thomas, who caught three passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. "This could do a lot for us further down the road."
Miami learned the same thing in its opener, also against an Atlantic opponent. The Hurricanes scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to edge the Seminoles.
Miami is now in the same position it was entering last season's game against Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes jumped into the poll immediately before playing the Yellow Jackets and trailed by as much as 31 in their 41-23 loss in Atlanta. The defeat kept the Hurricanes out of the ACC championship game.
Despite the similarities, Miami coach Randy Shannon isn't worried.
"It won't even faze this team," Shannon said. "The only thing they want to do is win and get the ranking at the end of the season. The only thing this team is worried about is taking care of the things it has to get done. This team is different, remember."
As assured as he sounds that his team won't suffer a letdown, Shannon knows this is a crucial juncture in the season.
"How much we've got to improve from this point to the next point is real big," he said. "It's always the biggest jump from the first game to the second game where you're going to improve the most and we're going to do that."
Miami has lost four straight against Georgia Tech, matching its longest skid in the series.
"It's one game, but it could make a big change for us," Miami running back Graig Cooper said. "Florida State's over. We had 24 hours to enjoy that one. It's all Georgia Tech. Straight business, Georgia Tech now. We remember what happened last year."
The Yellow Jackets aren't reading too much into their recent success in the series. What they've seen of the 2009 Hurricanes reminds them of the Miami teams that consistently won conference titles throughout the 1980s and 90s.
"They are fast, fast, fast," Thomas said. "They are looking like the old Miami teams from back in the day."
Thomas could have been referring to Cooper, whose versatility was on display in the opener. The 6-foot, 202-pounder returned kickoffs for 177 yards, made an acrobatic catch of a Jacory Harris pass for one fourth-quarter touchdown, broke through the defense for a critical third-down pickup on the final drive and then capped the win with a 3-yard TD rush with 1:53 left.
"He's a rounded athlete," Shannon said. "He can help you win a lot of games."
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every College Football game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.
Just how improved is this Miami team? We'll find out Thursday night when the Hurricanes face Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have won four straight against Miami, including last season's game, when the Jackets gained 472 yards on the ground.