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Tale of the Tape: Michigan

Timmy Mehl figures to be a key player when IU heads to Ann Arbor Sunday for a BIg Ten battle with the Wolverines. (Josh Eastern/HN)

The first match of Indiana’s two-game road trip didn’t go as planned. The Hoosiers were defeated 3-0 by the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats after allowing a goal within the first five minutes of the match.

IU was never able to recover and ended up allowing two more goals before it was said and done. The Hoosiers failed to build any sort of significant momentum throughout the game, and the loss marked the second time IU has fallen this season. It also meant the nine-game win streak was over.

The Hoosiers will look to bounce back Sunday afternoon against the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. It will be the fourth Big Ten game of the season for the Hoosiers in what will be a top-15 matchup.

Playing for First

Michigan and IU currently stand at the top of the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines, who are 3-0-1 in conference play, lead the Hoosiers by one point but have also played one more game. The matchup has gained popularity across national college soccer media as well.

Top Drawer Soccer has named the IU-Michigan matchup as one of the games to watch this week during conference play. Top Drawer mentions Jack Maher, Justin Rennicks, Andrew Gutman and Trevor Swartz in their primer for the game, and they have both teams coming away with a 0-0 draw. Whoever wins this matchup will go top of the table over the rest in the conference.

A Stout Back Line

The Wolverines have only allowed seven goals in all of the 2018 season and have only given up more than one goal in a game twice. The Michigan defense is anchored by seniors Peter Brown and Daniel Mukuna, who both stand at over six feet tall. They have size and length to be a stout defense, and it will be one of the better defenses Indiana has played all year.

IU struggled against tall and strong center backs thus far, and a prime example of that was against Kentucky. IU couldn’t win anything in the air against a tall back line, and set pieces didn’t work either. If IU falls into the same situation as last Wednesday, adjustments will have to be made accordingly by IU Head Coach Todd Yeagley.

Key Matchup

Timmy Mehl vs. Umar Farouk Osman — If there was any part of IU’s formation that struggled against Kentucky, it was its defense. Freshman Jack Maher was subbed out of the game in the second half and never re-entered. Senior Timmy Mehl was a bit inconsistent Wednesday, and he will be looking for a big bounce back game.

Osman is Michigan’s leading goal scorer and one of the most dangerous attackers in the Big Ten. If Michigan does play physical with IU and Maher has to exit the game again, the Hoosiers’ success will ride heavily on Mehl’s shoulders. He’s been able to carry the defense before with his size and awareness, and he will have another big task come Sunday.

One to Watch

Umar Farouk Osman — He’s already been mentioned, but my one to watch has to be the guy they call UFO. He’s Michigan’s leading goal-scorer with six on the season, and he also has three assists to his name as well. If there’s one player IU has to keep its eye on, it’s Osman. He’s started in all 10 games this season and is Michigan’s anchor in attack. Kentucky’s JJ Williams had a stellar day against Indiana, and Osman is at a similar caliber as an attacker.

Overall Assessment

IU needs a bounce-back win after a disaster of a result at Kentucky. This season’s Michigan team is better than the one that traveled to Bloomington last season and drew with the Hoosiers in a physical battle. Expect the same type of game this time around.

If Michigan gets going early and strikes first, it will be hard for the Hoosiers to answer because of the way the last game played out. IU has to get on the front foot if it wants to win this game. The Hoosiers struggled heavily to get any sort of rhythm against Kentucky, and they can’t afford for the same thing to happen with valuable Big Ten points on the line.

Michael Ramirez

I am a junior from Dallas, Texas, and am currently studying Media in the Media School and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. I worked for the Indiana Daily Student for the past two years where I covered men’s basketball, men’s soccer, water polo and cross country. I also served as the Sports Editor in the Spring of 2018. I am a member/radio host for WIUX, and I host a weekly podcast to talk anything and everything sports. Past internships include Digital Content for FC Dallas and sports reporting for Star Local Media. You can reach me at michrami@iu.edu or on Twitter @michrami_ for all your Dallas and Tottenham sports takes.

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