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Hurricanes seeking way to finally beat Georgia Tech

MIAMI - The last time Georgia Tech visited the Orange Bowl, the Yellow Jackets beat invincibility out of Miami.

They were three-touchdown underdogs that night against the Hurricanes, who were ranked No. 3 and contenders for both the Atlantic Coast Conference and national titles. That is, until Georgia Tech sacked Miami quarterback Kyle Wright seven times and headed home with a 14-10 upset win.

Wright has recovered from the bumps and bruises of that loss. On many levels, the Hurricanes' program still really hasn't.

Consider: Entering that Nov. 19, 2005, matchup, Miami lost nine times in its last 79 games. The Hurricanes are a mere 12-10 since, including another loss to Georgia Tech last year, and will seek long-awaited payback over the Yellow Jackets today in a critical game for both teams' ACC hopes.

'That's a team I haven't beaten as a starter and probably not too many guys on this team have beaten Georgia Tech,' Wright said. 'We want to win every game, but this is a big game. I'll just put it at that. It's a must-win after last week.'

The Ramblin' Wreck feel exactly the same way.

Both teams went on the road a week ago, got into big holes and saw comeback tries fall short. Maryland took a 21-10 lead on Georgia Tech and held on to win 28-26; North Carolina stunned Miami by taking a 27-0 halftime advantage, eventually winning 33-27.

The losses left the Hurricanes and Yellow Jackets on shaky footing in the ACC Coastal Division. Virginia and Virginia Tech are both unbeaten entering the weekend in league play, with Miami (4-2, 1-1) within realistic reach and Georgia Tech (3-3, 1-3) still believing it can fight its way back into the mix.

'We're not out of this thing,' Yellow Jackets quarterback Taylor Bennett said. 'The way college football is going right now, there's no way to predict who's going to win or who's going to go where. We're not counting ourselves out.'

Given the way they've played against Miami of late, why would the Yellow Jackets feel anything but confident?

'Every game for us, from now on, is a do-or-die game,' Tech safety Jamal Lewis said.

Getting back on track isn't the only thing Georgia Tech can do this weekend.

In the past three decades, only three schools - Notre Dame (1978-80), Virginia Tech (most recently 1997-99) and Florida State (most recently 1997-99) - can say they've beaten the Hurricanes three times in as many years.

Georgia Tech could join that exclusive club with a victory, and would be well on its way if its defensive front dominates the Hurricanes yet again.

Wright was sacked six times last year by the Yellow Jackets in a 30-23 Tech win in Atlanta, and Miami has been outgained 207-101 on the ground in the last two meetings with Chan Gailey's club.

'I know one thing. If you can't run it, you can't win, and if you can't throw it, you can't win,' Gailey said. 'If you do one a little bit better than another, and you major in it, it's not an issue. It's when you become unable to do another one that it hurts you in the win column.'

So, the Hurricanes will ask offensive coordinator Patrick Nix - who came to Miami from Georgia Tech after last season - to turn their struggles against the Yellow Jackets around.

'If you work against the same defense every day for four or five years, you get an understanding of it,' Gailey said. 'So it helps him tremendously.'

This was an emotional week at Miami, which had some players - including safety Kenny Phillips and wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, two of the Hurricanes' undisputed leaders - demanding better play from teammates.

Miami coach Randy Shannon lit into the 'Canes after one practice, shouting that 'losing is not acceptable at the University of Miami,' and his team understands that another loss could simply doom the season.

Shannon wants more, though, than just having the Hurricanes say the right things.

'That's a good sign, but now they've got to do it on game day,' Shannon said. 'You can have the edge in practice, which is good because you understand what we need to get done and the tempo and the sense of urgency. Now when game time comes, have that same edge and sense of urgency.'

SideBar: GEORGIA TECH AT MIAMI

When: Today, noon

Where: Coral Gables, Fla.

TV/Radio: ESPN/790-AM