Utes Will Play at Michigan Next Season

If the U football team keeps adding respected, nationally competitive opponents to its schedule, its days of playing schools like Louisiana-Monroe might soon be over for good.

This past season, the Utes dropped a 24-10 decision to eventual national runner-up Oregon, and followed that with a 10-6 Las Vegas Bowl victory over USC.

In 2002, they’ll again have a big-time road game, as it was announced Wednesday that the team will play Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sept. 21.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to play Michigan,” said U athletics director Chris Hill. “Our team and fans will be excited about playing one of college football’s traditional powerhouses.”

The opportunity to add the Wolverines (who finished 8-4 overall after a 45-17 loss to No. 8 Tennessee in the Florida Citrus Bowl) to the schedule came about when Memphis backed out of a home-and away series with the Utes.

Utah was to play at South Florida on Sept. 21, and at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Memphis on Sept. 28, but the schedule will now be juggled. While the Utes negotiate a new date with USF, they’ll also be searching for another home opponent.

In the meantime, U coach Ron McBride is excited to take his team into the 107,501-seat Michigan Stadium to play against one of the most vaunted teams in the country.

“We’re happy to go to the Big House and play,” McBride said. “Our players are excited to play another national name and show they can compete at that level.”

Utah and Michigan have never played each other in football, though McBride did face the Wolverines when he was an assistant for Wisconsin.

The Utes are 5-7 all-time against Big Ten opponents, including a 28-26 victory at Indiana on Sept. 22.

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