The Miami Hurricanes and Louisville Cardinals haven't faced off since 2006 but could be on track for back-to-back showdowns.
First up is a December 28 matchup in Orlando for the Russell Athletic Bowl. From there, the two could meet again next fall, as early as the season opener.
However it plays out, Miami and Louisville are about to get familiar as Atlantic Coast Conference foes, resulting in some great on-the-field moments and epic recruiting battles.
While a New Year's Eve bowl in Atlanta against a quality SEC team had a sexier ring to it, taking on Louisville in Orlando is full of pluses, as well.
The Hurricanes have a legitimate shot at the program's first 10-win campaign since 2003 and can also close out the year with three straight victories—capped with UM's first postseason success since 2006.
That's measurable progress, especially considering the depths to which Miami plummeted over the past decade.
Al Golden and staff continue their quest to bring the Hurricanes back to prominence. Half of this month will be spent preparing for the bowl game, while the rest of their time will be dedicated to closing strong on the recruiting front.
According to ESPN, Miami is set to reel in 2014's third-ranked class, while the current squad is on alert that nothing will come easy this month now that Golden declared every position an open race.
"Guys have 'spots' on mediocre teams," Golden told the Palm Beach Post. " 'That's my spot. Hey, this is my position.' It’s really not your position. The position is the University of Miami's position."
That old-school mentality is in line with the "Decade of Dominance" era Hurricanes. It promotes competition, gets the juices flowing and brings out the best in those ready to lay the foundation for a return to greatness.
It's also a message to those on-the-fence recruits—come to "The U," put in the work and earn valuable playing time immediately.
Locking down the "State of Miami" was a recruiting strategy dating back to the Howard Schnellenberger era in the late 1970s. The legendary Hurricanes coach put a fence around the tri-city area—Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties—while going after Florida's best and then targeting the nation's elite.
Years of on-the-field struggles loosened Miami's stranglehold on local talent, with no bigger benefactor the past few seasons than Louisville. Heisman-worthy quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was a product of Miami Northwestern, but trekked to the Bluegrass State.
Originally committed to the Hurricanes with wide receiver and high school teammate Eli Rogers, Bridgewater was swayed to hit the road for various reasons.
Two years later the Cardinals snatched up a few more Miami products who originally appeared to be staying local—linebackers Keith Brown and James Burgess Jr., whose father played for the Canes in the early 1990s.
Louisville currently has 25 players with Sunshine State ties, courtesy of head coach Charlie Strong and assistant Clint Hurtt. The former Florida defensive coordinator coupled with the one-time Miami assistant have been a force on the recruiting front, putting the Cardinals firmly on the map since their arrival.
One immediate way for "The U" to start shutting down the 305-to-502 pipeline (area codes, for those not in the know)—getting it done in a postseason head-to-head matchup. No better sales pitch for shared recruits than showing up prepared in late December, taking care of business and eliminating the stench of Miami's late-season three-game losing streak.
The combination of the Hurricanes and (most likely) NFL-bound Bridgewater will have all eyes on the Russell Athletic Bowl in a few weeks—lacking in brand name, but chock full of some quality Florida-bred, future NFL talent.
Comparable to Louisville's postseason last year, much is on the line for Miami in the season finale, and a statement must be made.
It time to come out swinging like the Cardinals against the Florida Gators last January, closing strong and giving the Canes something to build on.
Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog.