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Ann Arbor, Mich. • When lightning struck, the Utes were willing to be patient.
The weather was the only hurdle between Utah (3-0) and its biggest victory this season.
The Big House had a few first-half stumbles for the Utes, and there was a nightmare moment when quarterback Travis Wilson took a rough landing on his face before halftime. But like a bad dream, it passed: Wilson came back, leading three second-half scoring drives, and Utah's defense never broke to secure a 26-10 road victory over Michigan (2-2).
They just had to wait an extra 21/2 hours of a weather delay to play the final eight minutes of a win that was rightly theirs. By the finish, most of the crowd of nearly 104,000 Maize and Blue ticket-holders had emptied out of a drenched Michigan Stadium to leave a small but boisterous contingent of hearty Utah faithful.
"I heard a whole bunch about the Big House," Dres Anderson said. "But it was the Ute House."
With its first win over a power conference team this year, the Utes kept their momentum rolling into a difficult Pac-12 schedule that begins next week. It was also the team's first win outside the state since 2012.
Turnovers were the biggest advantage for Utah's defense, which had three picks: one by Brian Blechen, one by Gionni Paul, and a final dagger by Tevin Carter, who kicked his legs in triumph after returning the interception to Michigan territory. Utah's defense didn't give up an offensive score in the game, and it hassled Wolverine passer Devin Gardner for two picks and three sacks on the day.
Paul led the team in tackles with 14 in his Utah debut. Jared Norris stepped up with two sacks, and Nate Orchard's two sacks and a batted pass helped end Michigan's final attempts at a comeback.
"We played our butts off," Norris said. "The biggest thing is we couldn't take them lightly when they came out. ... Once we started hitting them a little bit, it didn't stop."
Initially, offense was just as ugly for both sides. Aside from a breakout 67-yard reception by Bubba Poole, the Utes were stagnant against an aggressive Michigan front compared to their early season form.
Perhaps it was desperation that led to the cover-your-eyes moment of the game: Wilson scrambled to his left and leapt toward the sideline in an attempt for extra yards. He was knocked down by a tackler, landing on his head with the rest of his body whipping down behind him. After being picked up and examined, he headed for the locker room.
Kendal Thompson's first meaningful minutes turned sour when threw a pick-six straight into the hands of Willie Henry, tying up the game midway through the second quarter at 10. Thompson earned some redemption on the following drive, going 54 yards in five minutes to put Andy Phillips in position for a go-ahead 38-yard field goal.
In fact, Phillips was an integral part of the game, also nailing attempts from 35, 48 and 50 yards, his longest as the rain and lightning came on in the fourth quarter, forcing a suspension that gave Utah a little longer to wait.
The only offensive touchdown of the game came on a whirlwind drive right after halftime. Wilson returned to his rightful place on the offense and led a five-play, 67-yard drive in under a minute-and-a-half. Dres Anderson capped it with an underneath crossing route that gave him space for a 28-yard score.
Special teams was also a factor early in the game, as Kaelin Clay returned his second punt of the season for a touchdown, giving Utah its first lead of the game. His 66-yard, sideline-tiptoeing, tackle-breaking return was memorable, but perhaps not as notable as the bold Heisman pose he struck in the end zone, triggering memories of Michigan alum Desmond Howard.
O Travis Wilson returns from an injury, throws for 172 yards and a touchdown.
• Utah's defense gets four turnovers, including three interceptions.
• Andy Phillips is 4-for-5 on field goals, with makes from 35, 38, 48 and 50 yards.
Utah 26, Michigan 10
Utah 7 10 7 6 26
Michigan 3 7 0 0 10
Mich • FG Wile 42, 9:36.
Utah • FG Phillips 35, 1:03.
Utah • Clay 66 punt return (Phillips kick), 14:39.
Mich • Henry 7 interception return (Wile kick), 5:01.
Utah • FG Phillips 38, :00.
Utah • Anderson 28 pass from Wilson (Phillips kick), 13:33.
Utah • FG Phillips 48, 14:20.
Utah • FG Phillips 50, 10:50.
Attendance • 103,890
First downs 13 19
Rushes-yards 37-81 36-118
Passing 205 190
Comp-Att-Int 18-27-1 18-39-3
Return Yards 158 10
Punts-Avg. 5-42.6 5-38.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-50 3-20
Time of Possession 26:28 33:32
Rushing • Utah, Poole 9-40, Booker 11-34, Wilson 8-25, Team 1-(minus 1), K.Thompson 8-(minus 17). Michigan, Green 14-59, Gardner 10-29, Hayes 3-19, Morris 4-9, Smith 4-5, Canteen 1-(minus 3).
Passing • Utah, Wilson 14-20-0-172, K.Thompson 4-7-1-33. Michigan, Gardner 14-26-2-148, Morris 4-13-1-42.
Receiving • Utah, Anderson 6-57, Scott 4-21, Poole 3-75, Patrick 2-30, Booker 2-9, Clay 1-13. Michigan, Funchess 4-82, Green 2-26, Hayes 2-25, Chesson 2-18, Williams 2-12, Norfleet 2-8, Canteen 1-6, Darboh 1-5, Butt 1-4, K.Hill 1-4.