ANN ARBOR, Mich.(AP) Michigan's new era opened in a painfully familiar way for the 100,000-plus fans at the Big House: With an ugly-looking loss.
Rich Rodriguez's debut as Wolverines coach was spoiled when Utah's Brian Johnson threw for 305 yards and a touchdown and Louie Sakoda kicked four field goals, providing enough scoring to hold on for a 25-23 win Saturday.
Michigan, which was upset by second-tier Appalachian State to begin last season, lost consecutive openers for the first time since 1989-90.
Utah decisively outplayed the Wolverines early and took a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter, but had a punt blocked and fumbled to give Michigan a shot to come back.
Steven Threet, who replaced Nick Sheridan at quarterback, perfectly lofted a 33-yard pass to Junior Hemingway and Sam McGuffie ran for a score on the next drive to pull Michigan within two points midway through the fourth.
Threet's pass on the 2-point conversion was high and the next two drives ended on three-and-outs. Michigan's final drive with an incomplete pass on fourth down deep in Michigan territory.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is 5-3 against Bowl Championship Series schools and the latest such victory was an important first step in giving the Utes a chance to bust the BCS at the end of the season.
Rodriguez's spread offense was kept in check, gaining just 36 yards on the ground and 167 through the air with inexperienced players at virtually every position.
He had a lot of success with the scheme at West Virginia, but he doesn't have anyone remotely resembling Pat White or Steve Slaton to make plays.
Rodriguez chose to start a former walk-on over a Georgia Tech transfer, and both struggled.
Sheridan played for two-plus quarters and was 11-of-19 for 98 yards with one TD, getting fortunate breaks to avoid a few interceptions. Threet entered in the third quarter and completed 8 of 19 passes for 69 yards and a score.
Michigan led 10-6 after one quarter on Sheridan's 8-yard touchdown pass to Michael Shaw and K.C. Lopata's 50-yard field goal. Utah scored on an 8-yard run by Corbin Louks, but Michigan's Terrance Taylor blocked the extra point.
The Utes dominated the second quarter, but stalled deep in Michigan on three straight possessions, with Sakoda kicking field goals each time to put Utah ahead 15-10.
Michigan, though, gave Utah one more chance before halftime as Sheridan's up-for-grabs pass was intercepted by Sean Smith. With 13 seconds left in the half, Johnson connected with Bradon Godfrey for a 19-yard touchdown and a 22-10 halftime lead.
Sakoda's fourth field goal, a career-best 53-yarder, was the only score of the third quarter.
Godfrey had 84 yards receiving and Matt Asiata ran for 77 yards, giving the Utes a good start in their quest to play in a BCS bowl for the first time since Urban Meyer helped them earn a spot four years ago in the Fiesta Bowl.
Scoring SummaryMichigan: MICHAEL SHAW 8 YD PASS FROM NICK SHERIDAN (K.C. LOPATA KICK)Utah: CORBIN LOUKS 8 YD RUN (BLOCKED XP)Michigan: K.C. LOPATA 50 YD FGUtah: LOUIE SAKODA 28 YD FGUtah: LOUIE SAKODA 43 YD FGUtah: LOUIE SAKODA 41 YD FGUtah: BRADON GODFREY 19 YD PASS FROM BRIAN JOHNSON (LOUIE SAKODA KICK)Utah: LOUIE SAKODA 53 YD FGMichigan: JUNIOR HEMINGWAY 33 YD PASS FROM STEVEN THREET (K.C. LOPATA KICK)Michigan: SAM MCGUFFIE 3 YD RUN (FAILED 2PT PASS)Team Statistics MichiganUtahTOTAL FIRST DOWNS1116TOTAL NET YARDS203341Total Plays6377Average Gain3.24.4NET YARDS RUSHING3636Rushes2543Average per rush1.40.8NET YARDS PASSING167305Completions-attempted19-3821-34Sacked00Yards Lost00TOTAL TURNOVERS33Interceptions11Fumbles Lost22OTHER Penalties815Penalty Yards53137Time of Possesion24:635:54Punts87Punt Average37.3840.29Return Yards9090PassingMichiganCMPATTYDSTDINTYDS/ATT Steven Threet (0)81969103.6Nick Sheridan (0)111998115.2UtahCMPATTYDSTDINTYDS/ATT Brian Johnson (0)2133305119.2 Team (0)010000.0RushingMichiganATTYDSTDAVG Brandon Minor (0)42105.3Sam McGuffie (0)8811.0Carlos Brown (0)1404.0Nick Sheridan (0)5200.4Michael Shaw (0)2100.5Steven Threet (0)5000.0UtahATTYDSTDAVG Matt Asiata (0)137705.9Darrell Mack (0)81702.1Corbin Louks (0)1818.0Brent Casteel (0)1000.0Brian Johnson (0)20-660-3.3ReceivingMichiganATTYDSTDAVG Martavious Odoms (0)5701.4 Greg Mathews (0)354018.0 Michael Shaw (0)31715.7 Junior Hemingway (0)241120.5 Sam McGuffie (0)222011.0 Carson Butler (0)21708.5 Darryl Stonum (0)1505.0 Brandon Minor (0)1404.0 UtahATTYDSTDAVG Bradon Godfrey (0)784112.0 Freddie Brown (0)559011.8 Brent Casteel (0)54909.8 David Reed (0)21909.5 Jereme Brooks (0)155055.0 Matt Asiata (0)139039.0