USF travels to No. 7 Michigan State

Midfielder Stephen Rudderham scored a hat trick en-route to the Bulls’ 4-1 win over University of Tampa this week. USF travels to play Michigan State on Friday.

After completing the preseason with wins against lower-division opponents, USF Men's Soccer coach Bob Butehorn and the Bulls will travel to East Lansing, Michigan on Friday to officially start their season against No. 9 Michigan State.

The Spartan’s preseason ranking doesn’t mean much to Butehorn, though.U

“We don’t change our identity, we just change some of the ideas or the different areas of the field that we can exploit,” he said. “You try to implement different tactics for different teams and our approach is going to be the approach that works best for beating Michigan State.”

The Spartans were just one penalty kick away from a spot in the NCAA Tournament final.

The team also features three players in TopDrawer’s top 100 list: Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Jimmy Hague (12), and a tandem of forwards in Ryan Sierakowski (36) and DeJuan Jones (74).

“I don’t really look at the top-100 lists,” Butehorn said. “That’s just other coaches voting. What we really do is we watch enough of their video and we’ll identify who we think could be effective against us and some players who we need to watch and I think they’ll do the same for us.”

Butehorn did go on to say there might be two or three players the Bulls had to worry about, but brought up Michigan State’s home record — the Spartans have lost just two games at home since 2015.

A potential-hidden bonus for Butehorn’s team is the travel itself.

“Our guys are really looking forward to going to Michigan where it’s a little cooler, a little less humid,” Butehorn said. “It’s also a chance to really connect and for these guys to get together away from school and I think that’s a really good opportunity for them.”

The weather forecast for Tampa on Friday night is about 80 degrees and 82 percent humidity, according to the Weather Channel — in East Lansing, it’s about 70 degrees with 70 percent humidity with a slight breeze.

Despite traveling to play a top-10 team with a nearly-perfect home record, Butehorn believes his team is mentally prepared for the challenge.

“I think (our team) isn’t aware of how good they are and I don’t think they look too hard at where teams are ranked preseason,” Butehorn said. “It’s a great challenge for them early in the season.”