It' is game day. We've done enough talking, now it is time to take a look at the things Michigan needs to do to walk out of Salt Lake City with a victory in Jim Harbaugh's debut with the program.
Without further ado, here we go:
Protecting the Quarterback
The Utah pass rush has been a hot topic of discussion this week. Michigan's offensive line by all accounts is much improved, but they will be tested by Hunter Dimick and company. If they can limit "Sack Lake City's" damage, they will be giving themselves a chance to be successful.
Be Opportunistic in the Passing Game
We assume Jake Rudock will get the nod at quarterback for the Wolverines, barring an unforeseen development prior to kickoff. Michigan is going to run the ball and try to control the clock this evening, but there will be opportunities to make a splash in the passing game with Utah's defense, who was ranked 90th against the pass last year. The wide receivers will have to find those chances and capitalize on them to make the offense balanced and move the chains.
Win the Turnover Battle
This one may go without saying for any football game, but this especially applies here. Michigan had trouble protecting the football on offense and forcing turnovers on defense last season. Rudock is not going to take many chances with the football and last season, neither did Travis Wilson. Though in 2013, he threw 16 interceptions. The Wolverines have to find a way to make him slip up and make mistakes.
Contain Devontae Booker
Booker emerged as one of the best running backs in the country last season. He is going to get his fair share of yards, but the run defense will have to limit his damage. If they want to get into a track meet with Utah, they won't be in very good shape. In last season's match-up, he was held to 34 yards on 11 rushes, but this was before he became the lead back.
Make the "Gimmies"
We expect this to be a low-scoring physical game, and with Michigan on the road in a hostile environment, a game that comes down to field goals favors Utah. Whether it be Kenny Allen or Kyle Seychel kicking field goals, they need to make the easy ones. Missed field goals can be absolutely deflating to a team. Andy Phillips will make his fair share and the Wolverines will have to respond accordingly.