Georgia Tech key: early four-game stretch

Georgia Tech should have a very good idea of where it stands less than halfway into the season. After opening against Elon, the Yellow Jackets face a four-game stretch against Coastal Division opponents — at Duke, vs. North Carolina, vs. Virginia Tech and at Miami.

Each brings its own peril. Tech has won nine in a row against Duke, its Sept. 14 opponent, but the Blue Devils appear to be gaining ground under coach David Cutcliffe. The outcome of the past three Tech-Duke games has been in doubt going into the fourth quarter. On Sept. 21, the Tar Heels undoubtedly will be burning for revenge after Tech trampled them in a 68-50 win in Chapel Hill, N.C., last season, the most points Tech has ever scored in an ACC game.

The Virginia Tech game Sept. 26 will be a Thursday-night ESPN special, five days after the Jackets play the Tar Heels. Coach Paul Johnson was less than pleased that while the Hokies also are playing on short rest, they’ll be coming off a nonconference game against Marshall rather than a high-stakes division game. The four-game gauntlet ends with an Oct. 5 road trip to Miami. Tech has not beaten the Hurricanes, the preseason favorite to win the Coastal, since 2008.

Four games in four weeks, three against the teams picked to finish ahead of them in the division — hold on for the ride.