Morgan State Bears running back Orlando Johnson runs during football practice at Hughes Stadium.
Morgan State Bears running back Orlando Johnson runs during football practice at Hughes Stadium. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

NORFOLK STATE (3-7) @ MORGAN STATE (4-5)

When: Today, 1 p.m.

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Site: Hughes Stadium, Baltimore

Audio: WEAA 88.9 FM

Series: Norfolk State leads 18-11

What's at stake: The Bears snapped their first three-game losing streak in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference under coach Lee Hull with Saturday's 21-7 victory over Florida A&M. The team, which is 4-3 in the league, can register back-to-back .500 campaigns for the first time since the program went 6-6 in 2008 and 6-5 in 2009 with a win against the Spartans. Norfolk State (3-4 in the MEAC) has a modest goal of its own — finishing back-to-back seasons of .500 play in the conference for the first time since a three-year stretch between 2009 and 2011. The Spartans have dropped four of their last five contests, but have won the last eight meetings with Morgan State. In fact, Norfolk State has defeated the Bears the last five times in Baltimore and has not lost there since Nov. 22, 2003, when Morgan State scored a 43-34 decision.

Key matchup: Collecting turnovers continues to be a problem for the Bears. The defense has recorded just 11 takeaways, which is the lowest total in the MEAC, and only three in its last four games. Adding to that ledger does not appear to be a high-percentage venture against the Spartans, who rank second in the league in fewest giveaways at 14. Saturday's 17-10 loss against South Carolina State marked the first contest this season in which Norfolk State lost more turnovers than it gained.

Player to watch: Morgan State would love to ignite the offense with redshirt sophomore running back Orlando Johnson (520 yards and six touchdowns). But running lanes could be scarce with Deon King patrolling the middle for the Spartans. The senior inside linebacker leads all NCAA Football Championship Subdivision players in total tackles (149) and tackles per game (14.9). King, who also has three sacks, has won more MEAC Defensive Player of the Week honors than any other player this fall.

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