After defeating Maryland 2-1 to improve to 5-0 in Big Ten play, IU will play its last non-conference match of the regular season with the Butler Bulldogs coming to Bloomington. Indiana is currently on a two-game win streak, defeating Michigan and Maryland in the process.
The Hoosiers are at the mountain top of the Big Ten coming into this week — they have a three-point advantage on second placed Michigan State.
The attention will turn to Butler on Tuesday, and it will be the first meeting between the two sides since their 0-0 draw up in Indianapolis last season. It was a game that saw a lackluster performance by Indiana, who was riding a nine-game win streak at the time.
Let’s dig in to this week’s Tale of the Tape.
Butler came into the season ranked No. 9 in the nation. Since then, the Bulldogs have gone 3-8-2 on the year and are dead last in the Big East standings. There were high hopes for a squad that was returning veteran leadership and promising young talent.
Instead, Butler has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the nation, accumulating a hefty amount of losses in between spotty wins. Butler is a team that either scores an abundant amount of goals in a game or none at all — there’s no in between.
🎥 One more time…
— Butler Men’s Soccer (@ButlerMSoccer) October 15, 2018
Inconsistency, plain and simple, has been the reason why this team hasn’t been that great this season. The Bulldogs have been in plenty of close matches, but the problem is finishing the job. This is good news for the Hoosiers, who have scored three goals in the last two games and have won close affairs both times.
The Indiana Derby
In last game’s postgame press conference, IU head coach Todd Yeagley coined the matchup as “The Indiana Derby”, using the English name for a big rivalry game. The meaning behind this quote shows that this matchup is always tight and scrappy, no matter how well or bad either team is doing.
“You guys all know the derby,” Yeagley said. “I mean, it’s been some battles through the years. Butler has been a little bit unfortunate this year with some of their results. I think their record is really deceiving.”
Yeagley making sure his guys are ready adds a testament for how intense the rivalry can get. Expect there to be another tight battle between these two teams.
Butler currently leads the Big East in corner kicks taken. Indiana is a team that feeds off set pieces and restarts. Something has to give.
Yeagley has stated time and time again how much he emphasizes set pieces and their importance. IU struggled against the set piece when it played Kentucky a few weeks ago, so Butler will look to do the same as well.
— Butler Men’s Soccer (@ButlerMSoccer) September 27, 2018
The Bulldog attack is another thing to keep an eye on in this matchup because of the threat they pose. Butler leads the Big East in goals scored and have the second-highest goal-per-game ratio. The Indiana back line has only allowed nine goals through 13 games this season, so this game could either be a battles of strengths or one team exposing the other.
One to Watch
Brandon Guhl — There aren’t many other players who are more deserving of a one to watch on this Butler team than Brandon Guhl. The junior forward has been the catalyst for the Bulldog attack, scoring six goals and assisting on two through 13 games.
Guhl is one of Butler’s leaders and was one of the main reasons to why the Bulldogs were rated so highly to start the season. He didn’t score in last year’s match, but he has the potential to be the reason why Butler can win this time around.
Indiana and Butler is always going to be primed for a great match, but if there’s any year that one of these teams can get blown out, it’s this year. The Bulldogs are just nowhere near where they were projected to be. Inconsistency has plagued this team throughout the year, and they haven’t played well against weaker opponents.
That being said, Butler did beat then-No. 16 Western Michigan and drew against then-No. 4 Akron to begin the season, so they’ve shown that they can play up to their competition. These two teams could be in for another tight match.