FACTS & STATS: Site: Michigan Stadium (109,901) — Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Television: ABC (ESPN2 mirror). Home Record: Utah 2-0, UM 2-0. Away Record:
Utah 0-0, UM 0-1. Neutral Record: Utah 0-0, UM 0-0. Conference Record: Utah
0-0, UM 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Pac-12 meets the Big Ten on Saturday afternoon at the Big
House, as the Michigan Wolverines play host to the unbeaten Utah Utes.
Utah is coming off a bye after opening the season with back-to-back home wins
over Idaho State (56-14) and Fresno State (59-27). This marks the road opener
for the Utes, who will play three of their next four games in unfriendly
confines. They begin their Pac-12 schedule at home next week against
Michigan rebounded from an ugly, 31-0 road loss to Notre Dame with a 34-10
victory over Miami-Ohio in Ann Arbor last weekend. This will be the final non-
conference tuneup for the Wolverines, who host Minnesota next Saturday in
their Big Ten Conference opener.
The all-time series between these two teams is tied, 1-1. Michigan was a 10-7
winner in the first meeting back in 2002, but Utah won the rematch in 2008,
25-23, in Ann Arbor to kick off a 13-0 season.
The Utes bring a potent offensive attack into this game, as they entered the
week ranked No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 57.5
ppg. Travis Wilson has been rock-solid under center, ranking No. 2 nationally
in passing efficiency (213.9). Against Fresno State, he threw five touchdown
passes in just over two quarters of play.
Utah’s average of 16.7 yards per pass completion leads the Pac-12 and ranks
eighth nationally, while the team is third in the conference and 14th in the
country in total offense (557.5). Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott combined for
four touchdowns and 161 receiving yards on nine catches against Fresno State.
The Utah defense has gotten a tremendous field-position boost in the early
going from punter Tom Hackert, who averaged 55.3 yards on five punts against
the Bulldogs. The defense was particularly strong against the run in that
game, limiting FSU to 55 rushing yards and a 1.4-yard average. The Bulldogs
managed only one touchdown against the Utes starters.
Hunter Dimick and Pita Taumoepenu each collected two sacks as part of a seven-
sack day for the defense. Utah is No. 1 in the nation in both sacks per game
(5.5) and tackles for loss (10.5, tied).
Michigan’s running game was in top form against Miami-Ohio, racking up 276
yards for a team average of 6.1 ypc. Sophomore Derrick Green headlined that
effort with 137 yards and two TDs on 22 carries. Green is averaging 110.7
yards on the ground (and 6.6 ypc) through three games and has found the end
zone three times.
As a unit, Michigan ranks third in the Big Ten and 29th in the nation with an
average of 242.0 rushing yards per game. The Wolverines have also gone a
perfect 10-for-10 in the red zone, with eight touchdowns. They scored on all
four trips inside the 20 against Miami, including three TDs.
Michigan’s defense stacks up well in several key categories, although the unit
was somewhat exposed in the loss to Notre Dame. The Wolverines currently lead
the Big Ten and rank seventh nationally in total defense (252.7), and they are
also No. 10 in the country in rushing defense (80.0). Over the last two games
— which includes Notre Dame — the Wolverines have yielded just 87 yards on
the ground (1.58 ypc), their lowest such two-game total since 2008.
In last week’s win, Miami managed only 33 rushing yards. Michigan has also
been solid on third down, limiting foes to a 31.8 percent success rate, which
ranks third in the conference and 34th nationally. The Wolverines are allowing
only 18.3 ppg after posting a second-half shutout against Miami.
Michigan has won 18 straight non-conference home games dating back to 2009,
and head coach Brady Hoke is 11-0 at home against non-league foes during the
month of September. Chalk up another home win for the Wolverines in this one,
although it certainly will not be easy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 35, Utah 31