What's at stake: The Bears' 20-10 loss at home to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Hampton a week ago hurt on two levels. Dropping to 3-1 in the league, Morgan State was unable to take advantage of Bethune-Cookman falling, 24-14, at North Carolina A&T and sliding to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the MEAC. The setback also allowed North Carolina A&T (5-1, 3-0) to take sole possession of first place in the conference, moving to No. 24 in the latest Football Championship Subdivision STATS poll. The Bears can stay relevant in the conversation for the league championship by defeating the Eagles for the eighth time in the past nine meetings. North Carolina Central and Morgan State were two teams that finished in a five-way tie for first place in the MEAC last season, and the Eagles have won two straight.
Key matchup: North Carolina Central is almost automatic when moving inside opponents' 20-yard line. The Eagles lead the MEAC in red-zone success, having converted 89.3 percent (25 of 28) of its trips with 16 touchdowns and nine field goals. The problem for the Bears is they rank last in the conference in red-zone offense, wallowing at 61.1 percent (11-for-18), with nine touchdowns and two field goals. Morgan State might have to keep up with North Carolina Central — or even outpace the Eagles — to emerge with the victory.
Player to watch: The Bears' defensive focus won't be a surprise. North Carolina Central running back Dorrel McClain ranks third in the MEAC in rushing yards (435) and rushing yards per game (72.5). The 5-foot-10, 190-pound redshirt freshman gained 135 yards on 18 attempts in Saturday's 39-22 comeback win at Savannah State, and McClain powers an Eagles running attack that leads the league in yards per game (182.8) and yards per carry (4.6).