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ESPN's Spielman says Utah will test Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Chris Spielman, the former Ohio State and Lions linebacker, said he won't know much about Michigan until it plays a "good" team at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan is 2-1, having defeated Appalachian State and Miami (Ohio) at home and losing at Notre Dame. It faces Utah and it's potent offense at home Saturday.

"Utah is a good team, and Michigan will be tested," Spielman said.

Spielman is working the game as an analyst with Sean McDonough for ESPN.

The first thing the Wolverines need to do is clean up the turnovers. They have eight in three games, including four in the second half against the Irish.

"They're lucky they've overmatched their opponents (at home)," Spielman said.

Utah is third nationally in scoring with its fast-paced offense led by 6-foot-7 quarterback Travis Wilson.

Michigan's defense is allowing 252.7 yards of offense and holding teams to an average of 80 yards rushing.

"Any time you play a hurry-up offense, defensively the key is communication and making sure everyone is on the same page," Spielman said. "I don't think that's a problem for Michigan. When I look at them defensively, their numbers look pretty good, and I know they have good players.

"The whole key offensively is being consistent. They're minus-seven in turnover margin, and that's something nobody wants. Ultimately, it comes down to (quarterback) Devin Gardner making good decisions."

Michigan's run game has been more productive, averaging 242 yards behind Derrick Green (332 yards, two 100-yard rushing games at home, three touchdowns).

"They're showing signs, but against who?" Spielman said. "Now's the time to answer the question. It's hard to give a breakdown of Michigan until I see them play a good team, and Utah is a good team."

The Utes are 1-8 the last two seasons in games played outside Utah.

Spielman, however, said not to be fooled by that record.

"Defensively, they get after you," he said.

"They're a very aggressive defense. The Nate Orchard kid who can play defensive end, linebacker, he's really athletic, and they move him around.

"Offensively, they have two really good receivers. Dres Anderson is more explosive and (Kenneth) Scott is pretty solid in the red zone. He's big and strong and has strong hands. Wilson can run it and throw it. I know they're 1-8 outside of Utah, but I know I watched them against Stanford and handily beat them last year in Utah."

Spielman also believes it's time for Michigan to make a run. Coach Brady Hoke is in his fourth season, and this year's schedule includes games at Michigan State and Ohio State.

"I think the world of Brady," Spielman said. "I think he's a good coach. Brady doesn't operate under any illusions — he knows what's expected. If the hot seat is there, and there's a reason it's there, how do you get off that seat?

"You win."

Utah at Michigan

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

TV/radio: ABC/WWJ

Records: Utah 2-0, Michigan State 2-1

Line: Michigan by 4

Series: Tied 1-1 (Utah 25-23, Aug. 30, 2008)