Tech still in title running

ATLANTA - Georgia Tech was plenty focused in its key ACC game against Miami.

Only after the Yellow Jackets' convincing 41-23 victory Thursday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium did they allow themselves to think about the help they need over the next two Saturdays to take the ACC's Coastal Division championship, and the berth in the ACC title game in Tampa that goes with it.

Or so it seemed.

"We knew that already," senior defensive tackle Darryl Richard admitted. "We need N.C. State to handle North Carolina. If Clemson wants to play in a bowl game this year, they're going to take care of Virginia. And hopefully, Virginia gets something done in Blacksburg. And Georgia Tech's going to be in Tampa. It's been in the back of my head."

OK, so while Richard made the scenario necessary for the Jackets to wind up in the title game sound simple enough, the odds of it actually happening are quite a bit more remote.

Losses to Virginia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina earlier in the season would put the Jackets on the losing end of a tiebreaker with any of the three.

So while Tech is technically in sole possession of the division lead at 5-3 with its ACC schedule complete, all three will have to lose at least one more game for Paul Johnson's team to make reservations for Tampa.

Still, given where his team was before Thursday night's win over Miami, and how volatile things have been in the ACC this season, it's not necessarily a bad place to be.

"We'll we've done all we can do," Johnson said. "It's like I told our guys. When we wake up in the morning, we'll be in first place because we finished our games.

"Who knows how it's going to work out with all the tiebreakers and with everything involved? But I know this. At the end of the year, we'll at least be co-champs or tri-champs or quad-champs - we'll be something."

Think of it as shooting a 68 on a Sunday afternoon at Augusta National to take the lead at The Masters, and then retiring to Butler Cabin to see if anybody can keep you from being fitted for the fabled green jacket.

The only difference is, while there may be the equivalent to a Phil Mickelson or Vijay Singh or Padraig Harrington still out on the course, there doesn't seem to be a Tiger Woods left playing that might take any realistic chance off the table.

"Who knows in this conference the way they play hot potato with the trophy?" Richard said. "Don't be surprised if somebody gives it up (today) and we get to watch them do it. Coach Johnson talked about it - being in the clubhouse early with the low score. It's great to just sit back and watch."