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Ann Arbor — No coach or player ever will admit to the, quote, "good" loss.

But there's no denying Michigan's season-opening setback against Utah looks much better today than a week ago, after the Utes last weekend went and pummeled an allegedly good team in Oregon, 62-20.

"When I seen that score, whoa, I was amazed, too," Michigan safety Delano Hill said. "I didn't know what to say."

Michigan and Utah both were unranked when the Utes won a 24-17 nail-biter, and little was made of the matchup.

Since, Utah has climbed to 4-0 and No. 10 in the nation after the Oregon shellacking — which, as an added bonus for Wolverines fans, makes No. 2 Michigan State's win over Oregon look significantly less impressive — and Michigan No. 22 after last weekend's thumping of previously ranked BYU.

Fans might've not thought much of the Utah loss at the time, but UM players say it set the tone for the season.

"You go to Utah and you play an amazing Utah team — putting 62 up on Oregon — OK, we lost a game, that sucks," running back Drake Johnson said. "In hindsight, the positive, we were in that game, we made some MEs (mental errors), we left some plays on the field, so to speak. We could've really won that game. That makes you hungry."

Johnson continued with the food references, saying a win over Utah might've actually given UM "a fat belly" — in other words, false confidence that could've done more harm down the road. He went so far as to say the loss at Utah was better than had Michigan opened with a home win over a patsy.

Running back Derrick Green said the Utah loss helped, in that it blatantly illustrated what Michigan still had to work on.

"Utah's a great team," said Green, whose team travels to Maryland this week for a Saturday night game. "After we lost to Utah, everybody was a lot more focused. That lose kind of opened our eyes, and showed us what we need to change, what we need to do. We all came together as a team."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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