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Michigan Wolverines vs. Utah Utes: Matchups To Watch

Taking a look at a few key storylines that will be interesting to follow on Thursday.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines sent the Utah Utes their week one depth chart on Monday, but there still are a lot of questions (and ORs) to sift through before we know for sure what the team will look like on Thursday night.

With that being said, there are still quite a few matchups to keep an eye on that will play a part in determining the contest between the Wolverines and Utes.

Here are a few that I will be keeping a close eye on:

U-M's Offensive Line vs. Utah's Pass Rush

Last season, the Utes sacked the quarterback 55 times, which was good for the top spot in the NCAA. Gone is Nate Orchard to the NFL, but Utah still has a guy in Hunter Dimick who was an absolute force on the defensive line last season, notching 14.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2014.

It has been well-documented how pedestrian the Michigan offensive line was the last few seasons, but they are by all accounts much improved after spending an off-season with Tim Drevno. That is what the hype suggests, but they will be tested early by a stout Utah defense. Not an easy task for a week one opponent on the road.

The Wolverines, namely offensive tackle Mason Cole, did a nice job last year in limiting guys like Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun and Ohio State's Joey Bosa, so the ability to slow down Dimick and the pass rush is there, but it will not be easy.

U-M's Quarterbacks vs. Utah's Secondary

Utah let the Wolverines hang around a bit in the meeting at the Big House last year, but poor, inefficient quarterback play and turnovers prevented Michigan from taking advantage of the opportunities. We assume Jake Rudock will be the starter on Thursday, but whoever is under center needs to protect the football.

The Utes' pass defense is a concern after ranking 90th in the country last year. The loss of Dominique Hatfield is significant, but it sounds like the secondary overall has had a nice off-season and looks improved. Utah corner Reggie Porter missed all of last season and was expected to be a starter, so having him back will be a nice boost to a cornerback group that struggled without him.

Regardless, opportunities to make plays in the passing game look like they will be there and that is where guys like Drake Harris and Grant Perry, along with Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, need to help the Wolverines craft a passing game that defenses have to respect.

Michigan is going to run the ball a lot, so do not expect them to light up Utah's secondary, but they do need to make plays that can provide the appropriate balance for the offense.

The Battle of the Kicking Games

I know this is the one that everyone is excited about!

Okay, maybe not to the average fan, but this is absolutely something to look out for. This projects to be a physical football game that may come down to kicks late in the game. Utah has a very good kicker in Andy Phillips, but the Wolverines do not know who their guy will be yet and the rumors from fall camp say that it is a position of concern.

Kenny Allen or Kyle Seychel are the two names on the depth chart at kicker. It will be a raucous environment on Thursday evening, so if it does come down to clutch, late-game heroics in the kicking game, it is advantage Utes there until we see otherwise.

Is there anything that you will be looking out for on Thursday? Sound off in the comments below!