Devontae Booker got his senior season off to a great start Thursday, leading Utah to a 24-17 win over Michigan on national television.
Booker rushed 22 times for 69 yards and a touchdown and added a team-high seven catches for 55 yards, as the Utes won their sixth straight home game over a non-conference opponent.
“Yeah, it’s just the plays we ran – the schemes and stuff that our coaches put up for me to get out (in space),” Booker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Really, when they were blitzing, I was getting checked down out in the backfield and they were throwing it to me and I was getting myself open.”
Booker scored from a yard out in the second quarter to give Utah a 10-3 lead. Michigan never got closer.
Wolverines quarterback Jake Rudock led a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter, culminating in a beautiful 19-yard touchdown reception by tight end Jake Butt to pull within 17-10. Utah cornerback Justin Thomas, however, had a 55-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“Oh yeah, no doubt. At that point, I was like, ‘That’s the dagger right there,’” Booker said. “I just thought it (was) game over and (we) just (got) out there on the field for our four-minute offense.”
Utah picked Rudock off three times, with Thomas getting the pick-six and Marcus Williams and Cory Butler also getting in on the act.
“Our defense played their butt off tonight,” Booker said. “With us getting three picks on the defensive side of the ball, that was great for us and it was just a momentum thing that carried (over) to the offense for us as well.”
The Utes held Michigan to 76 rushing yards on 29 carries – just 2.6 yards per carry – and won despite converting just 3-of-13 on third down. Still, quarterback Travis Wilson played well throughout the evening. He was an efficient 24-of-33 for 208 yards and ran 12 times for 53 yards and a touchdown. He also distributed the ball evenly, with seven Utes catching at least two passes.
It all amounted to Utah spoiling Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan debut.
You can say this for the Wolverines, though: they played hard.
“It was tough at the beginning,” Booker said. “They kept bringing everyone in the box – about eight, nine, maybe 10 sometimes in the box. They were just bringing them. Every time we ran it, we were running into the blitz. But we just made some adjustments at half, (and) the softer the defense tends to get – because they don’t want to keep tackling me coming full speed.”
Utah (1-0) hosts Utah State on Friday, Sept. 11, while Michigan (0-1) has its home opener the next day against Oregon State. In fact, the Wolverines play their next three games at home, with games against UNLV (Sept. 19) and BYU (Sept. 26) to follow.