NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State (0-1) plays its second straight road game against an FBS opponent this week when the Spartans match up against new FBS and Sun Belt Conference member JMU (1-0). Kickoff is at 4 p.m. Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg.
• The Spartans dropped their opener last week at Marshall, 55-3. NSU was outgained 612 yards to 114.
• JMU won its opener last Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium, 44-7, over Middle Tennessee. Todd Centeio threw six touchdown passes and accounted for 397 yards of total offense (287 passing, 110 rushings).
• In its last year at the FCS level in 2021, JMU went 12-2 and lost to eventual champion North Dakota State in the national semifinals.
• NSU is coming off a 6-5 2021 season in its first year under head coach Dawson Odums. Officially, it marked the first winning for NSU since 2007 and included a six-game win streak, tied for the second-longest in school history.
• The Spartans, who were picked to finish third in the MEAC this year, welcome back 12 starters from last year, including four on offense and eight on defense. • Seven Spartans were named to the preseason All-MEAC teams, including preseason Offensive Player of the Year RB J.J. Davis.
• This is the third meeting all-time between NSU and JMU. The teams met in 2017 at JMU (75-14 JMU win) and 2018 at NSU (17-0 JMU win).
• In the team’s last meeting, the Dukes were declared winners after one-quarter of play after inclement weather interrupted the game and the two sides decided not to continue.
• NSU was voted to finish third in the MEAC this season in the preseason poll of league head coaches and sports information directors. Reigning champ South Carolina State was picked first, followed by N.C. Central. Delaware State, Howard, and Morgan State round out spots four through six in the poll.
• NSU had seven All-MEAC preseason picks. RB J.J. Davis, C Colby Byrd, DB Brandon Savage, and LB Marquis Hall were first-team selections. WR Da’Quan Felton, LB Tyler Long, and DB Justin Toler were second-team choices.
• Davis, the MEAC’s leading rusher as a freshman in 2021, was voted the preseason MEAC Offensive Player of the Year.
• Davis, Byrd and Savage were first-team All-MEAC picks last year, while Hall and Long were second-team selections.
MORE PRESEASON HONORS
• In addition to his preseason MEAC honor, J.J. Davis was also named a preseason HBCU All-American by BOXTOROW and was selected to the preseason watch list for the Black College Football Player of the Year along with LB Marquis Hall.
NSU VS. FBS
• NSU is no stranger to playing Division I FBS opponents. The Spartans are 0-16 all-time in such games, including a loss to Marshall last week and defeats to Toledo and Wake Forest last year.
• The Spartans have become increasingly competitive in those games, however. NSU scored 10 points at Toledo and then 16 at ACC runner-up Wake Forest last year, its second-best output all-time against an FBS foe.
SPARTANS ON THE WORLDWIDE LEADER
• Ten of NSU’s 11 games this year will be broadcast on one of the ESPN family of networks. The games at Marshall and JMU will both air live on ESPN3.
• NSU’s non-conference games with Hampton, St. Francis, and N.C. A&T plus all five MEAC games will be on ESPN+ at a minimum.
• Games with N.C. Central and S.C. State fall on two of the MEAC’s wildcard weekends, meaning if the games hold significance in the standings, they could be selected to air live on ESPN3 and tape-delayed on ESPNU. If not, they will still air on ESPN+.