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The last time Sione Houma played in Rice-Eccles Stadium — only a few miles from where he grew up — he had a pretty good stat line.

He piled up 31 carries, 157 yards, and a pretty big 37-36 win. He was playing alongside Nate Orchard.

"It was a crazy night," Houma said, recounting his 2010 4A state football title with Highland High School. "Double overtime. We were all so happy."

That's the memory that will flood Houma, 21, as he steps on the field where he was once a Utah prep star. Now with Michigan, the senior fullback will aim to take down the team he once rooted for.

His loyalties are completely with the Maize and Blue. His family, however, is slightly more blurred.

"My house is divided," he said. "I'm going to have everybody there, my family, my cousins. Some people will be wearing Michigan stuff, and some will be wearing Utah stuff."

Houma escaped in-state borders in 2012, when he signed with the Wolverines. His career has had ups and downs: He's only started two games, getting most of his action on special teams. He hopes his prospects with the offense will improve under Jim Harbaugh, who is expected to implement more power run game elements into his offense this year.

Ever since Michigan secured a series with Utah, he's been looking forward to returning to his home state with a chance to knock off the Utes.

He won't see his old Rams teammate, who is playing this year for the Cleveland Browns. Houma will always be grateful for Orchard (then called Nate Fakahafua), who had 10 catches and 200 yards receiving, including the game-winning touchdown, in that state title game.

"I'm really happy for him," Houma said. "He still teases me about the touchdown I got called back by the ref. If that counted, he wouldn't have needed to make that catch in double overtime. It's crazy he's in the NFL now."

Field house paint job complete

Donors, your $15,938 was not in vain.

Utah athletics confirmed painters are "pulling the tape off" the Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse roof, where they've spent the last two weeks painting "UTAH" in block letters. The project was the brainchild of Utah fans posting on a message board,, and put into action by Saratoga Springs-area Ute fan Mark Sargent.

Sargent set up a GoFundMe site to raise the money after he had surveyed the roof and pitched the project to the university. He raised the money in one day, with 377 registered donors including basketball great Keith Van Horn.

The project was passed by Utah's administration in August, and the paint is drying just in time for the Michigan kickoff.


A survey of 500 Utahns, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, tabbed Utah as the local team most believe will have "the better football season." The Utes earned 40 percent of the vote, ahead of those who said they "don't know." Utah State finished with 18 percent and BYU finished with 17 percent. The survey has a margin of error of 5 percent. … The Utes will honor the national runner-up gymnastics team and the Sweet 16 men's basketball team during the game on Thursday night. … Another guest in Utah's pressbox will be Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who will be taking in the game on the first night of college football.

Twitter: @kylegoon

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