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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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College Football Picks: Michigan Wolverines at Utah Utes

The Michigan Wolverines open the 2015 college football season on the road Thursday when they take on the Utah Utes. The game is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on FOX Sports 1. Currently the college football odds for the game have the Utes favored to pick up the win at home.

The Jim Harbaugh experience begins Thursday night as Michigan opens their season with a tough road battle. Utah picked up a 26-10 win in Ann Arbor last year, a game that was marred by lightning and weather delays and was a mess. Michigan has been through some growing pains the past seven years, going through two coaches and sporting a record of just 46-42 despite an 11-2 season back in 2011. Harbaugh has been tabbed as the savior of the Wolverine program and there's no reason to doubt that. The fiery coach has guided San Diego, Stanford and the San Francisco 49ers to big turnarounds during his coaching tenure and there's no doubt he will be given unlimited resources in Ann Arbor.

This game is big for both schools, especially setting the tone early in the season. Utah is using the media hype around Harbaugh to fuel their "underdog" status in this one, but the Utes are actually favored to win. This is one of the better overall matchups the first week and expect both teams to play well.

Last year Michigan's defense was a lot better than it appeared. The Wolverines will have a tough matchup in trying to slow down Utah tailback Devontae Booker, a 1,500-yard back from a season ago despite struggling against the Wolverines with less than 40 yards. Utah decided on versatile quarterback Travis Wilson to be the signal caller and he certainly has some weapons to get the football to.

Michigan has talent as well, even though it didn't look like it most of last season. Jake Rudock, the transfer from Iowa, will be the starting quarterback while the Wolverines also sport a trio of running backs that will all see a decent number of carries. De'Veon Smith will see a good bulk of the carries with the starters, both Derrick Green and USC transfer Ty Isaac will be installed into the offense as well.

The Wolverines will have the defense to stay in this game, but playing at Utah is certainly tough. Michigan is 111-21-3 all-time in season openers, including 16-5-1 on the road. This is, however, Michigan's first opener on the road since a 36-20 loss at Notre Dame in 1998. Utah gets it done in this one, but it will be close.

Free Pick: Utah 24, Michigan 20 (Michigan plus the points)

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