Utah defeats Michigan 24-17 in season opener in Salt Lake City

Posted at 9:53 PM, Sep 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-04 10:05:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The University of Utah Utes began their football season at home against Michigan Thursday in a highly anticipated game that drew a lot of buzz, as it was Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh's first game at the helm of his alma mater.

But that first game was no honeymoon, as Utah came away with a 24-17 victory.

Utah started with possession of the football, and their opening drive ended in a field goal to give them the first lead of the game.

Michigan turned the ball over on the following drive, throwing an interception. Utah was unable to capitalize, however, and punted the ball back to Michigan.

The Wolverines tied the score with a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter, but Utah was able to score on a later drive that was capped off with short endzone run from Utah's Devontae Booker.

Utah had a chance to extend their lead before halftime on a last-minute drive, and despite converting on a late-in-the-half 4th down, Utah's efforts were ultimately stymied by Michigan, who picked off a long bomb pass in the endzone that was thrown after time had expired. With zero showing on the clock, the return was quickly shut down by the Utes to send both sides to the locker rooms for halftime.

Michigan's first drive of the second half came to a halt after a pass ruled complete on the field was challenged and overturned, setting up a 4th-down field goal attempt--which the Wolverines narrowly missed.

The next drive for Utah resulted in a touchdown, which came with some trickery as Travis Wilson faked a handoff and then sprinted about 14 yards for six points. The PAT afterward made it 17-3 Utah, with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.

Michigan got things going with a later drive, and a late hit out of bounds penalty on the Utes gave Michigan a 1st and 10 instead of a 4th down at a critical time. This set up a Wolverine touchdown shortly after, as Butt came down with an impressive catch in the endzone despite double coverage to put the Wolverines within one possession of Utah at 17-10.

Utah got within scoring distance on their next drive, which featured a dramatic conversion for a first down on 4th and short. Still, a field goal attempt on 4th and 9 was a miss for the Utes, giving the Wolverines the ball back with just over 10 minutes left to play.

But the Ute defense decided to get in on the scoring, as Justin Thomas intercepted the ball and ran about 56 yards for a touchdown to give Utah an even greater lead with less than 8 minutes left to play.

Michigan's next drive came down to a pair of short plays at about the 35 yard line, as the Utah defense shut them down on 3rd and 1 and again on the next play--stifling a fourth-down conversion attempt from the Wolverines.

Michigan managed to get the ball back, and they saw a resurgence of life on a late drive, capped off with a touchdown pass to Darboh for 10 yards to make it 24-17 Utah with 54 seconds left.

Michigan attempted an on-side kick, but Utah called a timeout before the kick, negating the play. On the next attempt, Michigan kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Utah the ball. A couple of kneel downs later, and the Utes walked away with a 24-17 win at home to start their season.