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Battle of the Bay likely to be closer than records appear

Norfolk State is winless, Hampton is undefeated, but the rivalry game isn't primed to reflect those records

NORFOLK, Va. — At first glance the 757's most storied matchup may feel a bit lopsided this season. 

Hampton University has stormed to a 2-0 season start behind an offense averaging over 400 yards a game. Norfolk State is winless, and gained just 326 yards total on the year. 

Dig a little deeper, and the gap thins. This is to take nothing away from Hampton. The Pirates have no choice but to play the opponent in front of them, and they have done so admirably. The offense has been dominant and the defense has done its job in leading the Pirates to a near ideal start. Strictly as a means to examine their matchup with the Spartans, it is crucial to further examine the schedule. The Pirates have beaten Howard and Tuskegee, both programs are winless on the year and both finished 3-8 last season. 

The more necessary deep dive is into Norfolk State's schedule. The Spartans have simply played as difficult a schedule as anyone. First was Marshall, a team that placed 26th in the most recent Associated Press poll after beating Notre Dame. NSU's second game was James Madison, a school that has long dominated the FCS level and recently jumped to the currently stellar Sun Belt conference. JMU won their only other game this season 44-7. 

That scheduling context leads to a different conclusion than current wins and losses. Their records are opposite, but their game is likely to be more similar to last years thrilling overtime shootout. The 757 could ask for nothing more from the the area's preeminent college sports rivalry. 

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