October will decide December in the ACC Coastal

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

ACC fans won't have to wait long to find out who's got the edge in the Coastal Division this year, but the race won't be wrapped up in September, despite three key games that will have an immediate impact on the division standings.

You'll have to wait until October.

That's the month the Coastal Division will be decided -- and Miami doesn't even play one divisional game in October.

September is all about Georgia Tech and Miami. The Canes will head into November having played Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. If they lose one or both of those games, their hopes at winning a tiebreaker situation will be shot. The same can be said for Georgia Tech, which can't afford to lose to Miami and UNC. The Jackets are all-too familiar with losing the tiebreaker situation after last year's loss to Virginia Tech. It does come back to haunt you.

Neither Georgia Tech nor Miami can afford to start September 0-2. The only way I see this playing out into late November like it did last season is if Miami starts September 2-0 against its Coastal Division opponents, and considering what happened last year to the Canes against Paul Johnson's offense, there's not exactly a lot of faith that this year will be much different defensively. And Miami will be playing in Lane Stadium, which isn't exactly going to be rolling out the welcome mat. The best thing Miami has going for it in September is the bye week heading into the Georgia Tech game.

Now, Miami and Georgia Tech might seal their fates in September, but hold off any Hokie celebrations just yet.

The game that will define the season will be played on Oct. 17, when Virginia Tech travels to Georgia Tech. The Jackets lost by three points last year, and outgained the Hokies on the ground. Sure, UNC has a chance to dethrone the Hokies on Oct. 29, and it should be a great game, but Virginia Tech will be coming off a bye week and will have home-field advantage against the Heels.

Bottom line: September is the month for Miami to show what it's made of. October is the month Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and North Carolina will establish the pecking order. November is the month for Duke to play spoiler, and for Miami to salvage the season with a 3-0 record against the Coastal Division. December is the month it all pays off.

Check out how the Coastal Division schedule shakes out:

Georgia Tech vs. Miami (Sept. 17)
Georgia Tech vs. UNC (Sept. 26)
Miami vs. Virginia Tech (Sept. 26)

Duke vs. Virginia Tech (Oct. 3)
UNC vs. UVA (Oct. 3)
Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech (Oct. 17)
Georgia Tech vs. UVA (Oct. 24)
UNC vs. Virginia Tech (Oct. 29)
Duke vs. UVA (Oct. 31)

Duke vs. UNC (Nov. 7)
Miami vs. UVA (Nov. 7)
Duke vs. Georgia Tech (Nov. 14)
Miami vs. UNC (Nov. 14)
Duke vs. Miami (Nov. 21)
Virginia Tech vs. Virginia (Nov. 28)