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Men’s Weekend Preview: Conference deciders

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: October 10, 2014

Upsets have been the main story of the 2014 men’s college soccer season with top teams stumbling at every turn. Will this weekend be any different?

Here are the five games to keep an eye on from the robust slate of games from the second weekend of October.

No. 5 Notre Dame (5-3-2, 2-1-1) vs. No. 17 Louisville (5-4-1, 3-1), Friday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m. (ET)

The midweek out-of-conference games were not kind to the ACC this week. Notre Dame rallied from an early two-goal deficit against Michigan only to cough up a third late in the game and fall 3-2 on the road. It was the second shocking result of the past week for Notre Dame after losing 0-1 at home to Boston College. Tuesday’s defeat marked the first time since 2009 Notre Dame lost back-to-back games in the regular season. A single tear falls for the obscure streak that this Irish team ended this week. Meanwhile, Indiana blitzed Louisville on the way to a 3-0 win for the Hoosiers at Lynn Stadium. The consolation prize for the substandard results is a very important ACC clash on Friday night in South Bend. Can Notre Dame stop the skid? Or will Louisville end its three-game losing streak?

No. 19 California (6-3, 0-2) vs. No. 6 UCLA (6-2-2, 1-0), Friday, Oct. 10, 5 p.m. (PT)

California returns to Berkeley to find another Bear in its backyard. The Golden Bears face a must-win situation after dropping both games during the Pac-12 Pacific Northwest road swing last week. Cal’s defense will need to be considerably sharper than it has shown recently against a very talented UCLA side. The Cal offense has been humming along just fine, as the Golden Bears lead the conference in scoring offense with 2.89 goals per game. UCLA has only conceded more than one goal in a game once this season. Will the Bruins’ stout defense hold on in this important conference matchup?

No. 7 New Mexico (8-2-1, 1-1) vs. Missouri State (5-3-2, 2-0), Sunday, Oct. 12, 8 p.m. (ET)

This is the final non-conference game of the regular season for the Lobos. It is also a really good test for the Lobos that they normally do not see during the regular season slate. Missouri State is a well-coached team that is organized, which is code for the Bears defend well. Missouri State ranks 20th in the nation in goals against average with a 0.6 mark heading into the weekend. This is the most difficult test that Missouri State has faced this season, as New Mexico is an elite program and has one of the biggest home-field advantages in Division I. In terms of postseason assistance, Missouri State would greatly benefit from a road result here, but that’s definitely easier said that done.

No. 20 Ohio State (4-4-3, 2-1) vs. No. 9 Indiana (7-1-3, 1-1-1), Sunday, Oct. 12, 2 p.m. (ET)

The hot-and-cold Buckeyes are looking to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Oakland, as they take on Indiana in an important Big Ten showdown on Sunday. Indiana is undefeated in its last six, but still needs a win here to try to catch up to Penn State in the Big Ten regular season chase. Despite the run of form, this game actually sets up well for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are at their best when they can just counter attack and defend with numbers. Indiana will need some creative magic to fix the bus that figures to be parked in the 18-yard-box in Columbus on Sunday.

George Mason (7-2-2, 0-1) vs. No. 16 Saint Louis (8-2, 1-0), Sunday, Oct. 12, 1 p.m. (ET)

George Mason has had a pretty good season with a nine-game unbeaten run to start the campaign. Back-to-back losses to VCU and Virginia have taken some of the shine off of the blistering pace out of the gates. However, those wins have not been entirely impressive. George Mason sits at No. 86 in the RPI heading into this week. That’s a long way outside of the bubble. Saint Louis, meanwhile, has a cozy spot at No. 14. Mason needs this win on Sunday for the RPI and for the conference.  

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