Michigan vs. Utah: Breakdown and Prediction

It’s here. It’s finally here.
The beginning of the Jim Harbaugh era is ready to commence.
Tonight, the Wolverines will kick off the 2015-16 College Football season against the Utah Utes,
The Utes, as everyone remembers defeated the Wolverines last year in the Big House 26-10- a game in which the Wolverines offense did not score a touchdown. In fact the Wolverine offense has not scored touchdown against the Utes since late in the fourth quarter back in 2008 (the last time they met prior to last season).
This year’s meeting shall be quite entertaining, not only because of Harbaugh, but because both teams have a lot of talent.
Here is a breakdown and preview for game one.

While we all know what Utah brings to the table offensively in quarterback Travis Wilson, and running back Devontae Booker, we aren’t quite sure what Michigan brings. The Wolverine depth chart states the starting quarterback is either Jake Rudock or Shane Morris, but we all know it will most likely be Rudock. Rudock has a lot of experience, and has played in big game atmospheres, so he should bring a calm demeanor to the offense.
While Wilson isn’t an elite Heisman potential quarterback, he is at home and will be in front of an energized crowd. I expect him to feed off that energy and play a solid game, equaling Jake Rudock.
Many Ute fans believe Booker is a true Heisman trophy candidate, and while I think Booker is a great running back, he isn’t a true candidate for the most coveted individual award in college football.
Booker ran for over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, which is excellent, but he isn’t elite. Wilson also ran in for five scores last season, so he could be a threat to run as well. On the other side Michigan doesn’t have one standout running back. They have three healthy backs who are all capable of carrying the load of the carries. De’Veon Smith sits atop the depth chart, but expect the ball to be handed off to multiple players.

Offensive edge: Utah

Across the board the Wolverine defense is better. The defense which ranked seventh in the nation last year did lose a few players to transfer and graduation, but they did gain one key factor: D.J. Durkin. Durkin is a great defensive mind, and you saw how good the Florida Gator defense was last year, imagine how the Wolverine defense will be.
The Utes ranked 60th in total defense last year, but were 24th against the run. Utah has a solid front four, which will be a test for the Wolverine offensive line, but a task they should be able to handle.

Defensive edge: Michigan

Special Teams:
Michigan found themselves in too many tough spots last year due to special teams. Utah has a great return game and coverage game. As for Michigan, nobody really knows what to expect. If Jabrill Pepper is returning kicks and punts, all eyes must be on him when he catches that ball because he can and will fly. Neither team has huge edge in this category.

Special Teams edge: Draw

Final Prediction:
This game is going to come down to defense. Utah may have the edge over Michigan in terms of offense, and it might not be by as much as most people think. It does not matter. Michigan has such a large edge defensively that just a few stops could open the door for the Wolverines. The offense may struggle, but the defense will hold strong and put the team in position to win. While for months I have been saying I believe Michigan will lose this game in a tight one, my gut feeling has changed in the past week.

Prediction: Michigan 20, Utah 13. 

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