Battle of the Bay’s return to Norfolk State highlights Spartans’ football schedule

For the first time in five years, Norfolk State will host the Battle of the Bay rivalry at Dick Price Stadium.

The Spartans and Hampton, which renewed their football series with last season’s thrilling 47-44 overtime win by NSU, are set to battle again on Saturday, Sept. 17.

The game is one of five home dates for Norfolk State and will be the home opener following trips to Marshall on Sept. 3 and James Madison on Sept. 10.

“We have a challenging non-conference schedule with four of the six games being on the road,” NSU coach Dawson Odums said in a release. “We’re also looking forward to having five home games in ‘Sparta’ this year that our fans should be excited about.”

Marshall and JMU are two FBS opponents as the Dukes are moving from the FCS to the Sun Belt Conference.

Following the Battle of the Bay, St. Francis (Pa.) comes to Norfolk on Sept. 24 to complete a home-and-home series. NSU won 28-16 last season. The Spartans will then travel to Sacred Heart (Conn.) on Oct. 1.

Norfolk State begins the MEAC slate at Morgan State on Oct. 8, then hosts back-to-back conference games against Delaware State and Howard with a bye week between them.

The season concludes with a trip to North Carolina A&T for a non-conference game — A&T left the MEAC in 2019 — a home game against N.C. Central on Nov. 12 and the finale at South Carolina State on Nov. 19.

The Spartans hope to improve on last year’s 6-5 overall and 2-3 MEAC mark in Odums’ first season. The team should have a revamped look as Odums will have his first full offseason and class of recruits.

“We’re looking to take another step towards greatness this year — it’s a new day, new season and new opportunity, but the same mission,” Odums said.

Many of the team’s foundational stars are graduating or have entered the transfer portal. Quarterback Juwan Carter and defensive end De’Shaan Dixon are training for the NFL Draft while players like offensive lineman Justin Redd (East Carolina), defensive back Devyn Coles (JMU) and running back Kevin Johnson (Hampton) transferred.

NSU football schedule

Sept. 3 at Marshall

Sept. 10 at James Madison

Sept. 17 vs. Hampton

Sept. 24 vs. St. Francis (Pa.)

Oct. 1 at Sacred Heart (Conn.)

Oct. 8 at Morgan State

Oct. 15 vs. Delaware State

Oct. 29 vs. Howard

Nov. 5 at North Carolina A&T

Nov. 12 vs. North Carolina Central

Nov. 19 at South Carolina State

Ray Nimmo,