Local college football previews: No. 15 Towson welcomes No. 7 James Madison, Morgan State visits Norfolk State

NO. 7 JAMES MADISON (7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association) @ NO. 15 TOWSON (7-3, 5-2)

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Site: Johnny Unitas Stadium

TV: College Sports Live

Radio: CBS Sports Radio 1300 AM

Series: James Madison leads, 19-6-1

What’s at stake: Towson’s 41-10 rout at then-No. 7 Elon on Saturday created a four-way tie for second place in the CAA between the Tigers, No. 17 Delaware, James Madison and No. 10 Stony Brook. No. 16 Maine (7-3, 6-1) has already clinched at least a share of the conference title. To earn a shot at the automatic qualifier associated with capturing the league championship, Towson must hope that No. 14 Elon upsets the Black Bears at 12 p.m. and then defeat the Dukes, who have won nine of the last 10 meetings. But two of James Madison’s three losses have occurred on the road, while the Tigers are 3-1 at home.

Key matchup: Towson boasts the CAA’s most prolific offense in a unit that has averaged 38.7 points and 470.8 yards. On the flipside, James Madison features the league’s stingiest defense that has allowed only 14.4 points per game and ranks second at 273.3 yards per game. Tigers redshirt junior Tom Flacco leads the conference in passing yards and touchdown passes, but Dukes senior cornerback Jimmy Moreland is tied for the CAA lead in interceptions with five – three of which he has returned for touchdowns.

Player to watch: Towson redshirt junior linebacker Robert Heyward was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week after compiling 13 tackles (3½ for loss) and one sack. And junior kicker Aidan O’Neill picked up the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week award after setting a school single-season record for field goals with 20.

MORGAN STATE (3-7 overall and 2-4 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) @ NORFOLK STATE (4-5, 2-4)

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Site: William “Dick” Price Stadium

TV: ESPN3

Radio: WEAA 88.9 FM

Series: Norfolk State leads, 18-11

What’s at stake: Morgan State avoided getting saddled with a four-game losing streak for the third year in a row by defeating Delaware State, 9-0, on Saturday. The win lifted the Bears into a tie for seventh place in the MEAC with Norfolk State, which ended a four-game losing skid of its own by upending Howard, 29-17. The Spartans have enjoyed an eight-game winning streak in their series against Morgan State, who have secured two of their three victories on the road this season. The Bears will try to collect a win in their regular-season finale for the second time in the past three years.

Key matchup: Norfolk State’s seventh-ranked offense belies a passing unit that ranks fourth in the MEAC at 194.7 yards per game. But the quarterback duo of sophomore Juwan Carter and freshman D’Andre Thomas has been intercepted 14 times, which ranks as the second-highest total in the conference. Meanwhile, Morgan State’s 13 interceptions are tied with Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State as the most in the MEAC. Sophomore cornerback Donte Small leads the league in interceptions (four) and pass breakups (15).

Player to watch: Morgan State senior left tackle Joshua Miles picked up the MEAC’s Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week honor after he helped the offense gain 366 total yards, including 253 rushing yards, in Saturday’s 9-0 win against Delaware State. It marked the second time this season that the Baltimore resident and Western Tech graduate had earned that distinction.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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