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Sunday notebook

The Miami Hurricanes are ranked for the first time in two years and control their own path to the ACC title game. But if you ask them, they don't really care.

Sunday, after the team began preparing for another Thursday night primetime game, coach Randy Shannon and his players didn't exhibit a lot of excitement over their newest rewards created by their current five-game winning streak. It seems they've got their eyes on the bigger prize.

Randy_shannon2_2"It really doesn't matter," Shannon said when asked what it means for his team to be ranked 23rd in the country by AP, the first time Miami has been ranked since it lost at Louisville Sept. 15, 2006. "The only thing that matters to us is we have an opponent on the road that's playing very well, which is Georgia Tech. That's the only thing that matters to us right now."

What about the fact you can win your way into the big game in Tampa now and that you don't need to worry about what happens anymore with North Carolina? "We don't think about it," Shannon said. "Not at all. We're just worrying about Georgia Tech."

For what's it worth, Javarris James and Xavier Shannon said said they had no idea the team was ranked when asked about it after practice. "Everyone outside of the University of Miami is all hyped about it, but we're not going to change anything," Xavier Shannon said. "Why would we?"

Truth is, no matter what they say, the Canes are definitely excited to be in front of the steering wheel and no longer sitting in the back seat of a conference many thought they would come in and dominate right away. And the truth is, UM could have everything locked up for a trip to Tampa by Saturday (at least we think). Today, Associated Press writer Tim Reynolds and I began trying to figure out if the Canes could clinch the Coastal Division title by this weekend. And it appears they can.

What HAS to happen? UM needs to beat Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech first, and then have either two scenarios play out. One, North Carolina loses at home to N.C. State. Or, if Carolina wins, Virginia Tech and Virginia both win their home games against Duke and Clemson. How does that get UM in? It's complicated. But, basically Miami would own all the tiebreakers needed regardless of what happens a week later. UM owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Virginia Tech and Virginia, and in a three-way tie (best record among teams tied in the Coastal Division would be used as the tiebreaker) Miami would own that with a 4-1 in-division record. We tried explaining the scenario to Randy Shannon after practice and he didn't care. He took off his hat and said "You can get these [pointing to two gray hairs on his head] if you worry about that," he said.

JavarrisjamesBut you know his players are excited. James said he received text messages from teammates who were watching the North Carolina-Maryland game while he was driving home to Immokalee this weekend. James admitted practice had more of a spark Sunday. "From here on out, we can control our own destiny," James said. "I think its definitely put more of a spark into us. Guys were talking about how they're ready to practice, ready to work. We know what we got to do now."

And it starts with beat Georgia Tech. Believe me, you don't want to know the other scenario if Miami loses to the Yellow Jackets.

> The best news from Sunday appears to be that left tackle Jason Fox is expected to return to the lineup Thursday night. Fox had his 22-game starting streak snapped when a right ankle injury forced him out against the Hokies. But he returned to practice Sunday with his right ankle heavily taped. Shannon said Fox will play.

> Receiver, speedster and return man Travis Benjamin is a different story. "We don't know about him yet, but he moved around pretty well," Shannon said.

> Quarterback Robert Marve had some extra drills to do after practice for some apparent fumble issues in practice. He was doing rolly-pollys and came off the field with some grass in his hair.