That was back in 2008, which ultimately resulted in a 25-23 loss for the Wolverines at the hands of Coach Kyle Whittingham, who took over for Urban Meyer after he left for Florida following the 2004 season.
At that time, current Michigan coach Brady Hoke was in his final season as head coach at Ball State, one year later accepting the same position at San Diego State where he and Whittingham would play each other two years in a row.
In that same 2008 season that the Utes topped Michigan, San Diego State whimpered to a 63-14 loss to Utah.
Come 2009, Hoke’s Aztecs, who finished that first season 4-8 overall, couldn’t muster up a much better performance than the previous year, falling 38-7.
In Hoke’s second season at San Diego State, the story changed a bit. No the Aztecs didn’t beat the Utes, but the 38-34 loss was a bright spot in what turned out to be a 9-4 season, the first winning season at the school since 1998.
Now, Hoke is patrolling the sidelines for the Wolverines while Whittingham and Utah are off in the Pac-12, 2-0 to start the 2014 season and boasting a pretty potent offensive attack led by quarterback Travis Wilson.
Hoke remembers plenty about his time tangling with Utah.
“I just think he’s always been an aggressive coach,” Hoke said Monday. “He’s a defensive coach; we played him twice at San Diego State and got embarrassed at their place one year and played well the next year but always physical and always aggressive.”
Hoke adding, “They’re a physical group. They’ve always had skill at receiver, backs, cornerbacks, were always pretty skillful. Big upfront with the linemen. On defense, very active and pressured us a bunch at San Diego State.”
In Utah’s first two wins of the year, one a 56-14 pasting of Idaho State followed by a 59-27 win over Fresno State, Hoke believes the Utes didn’t necessarily have to apply as much pressure defensively as Michigan will see come Saturday.
“They’re a little bit of both,” Hoke said. “In the first two games, probably haven’t blitzed as much as they would like to for one reason or another. I think we’ll see more of that. I think when you, if you get behind the sticks on third down you know you’re going to get it.”
“He’s got a new defensive coordinator in Dave Christensen,” Hoke continued. “Dave was the head coach at Wyoming so we played him for two years.”
Admittedly disappointed in the lack of turnovers generated by his defense against Miami (Ohio), outside of the Jourdan Lewis interception, Hoke says that statistic could be paramount come Saturday at 3:30.
“I think it helps,” Hoke said. “Turnover margin is one of the biggest indicators in the game of football either in the national football league level or the college level and how you end up the season.
“I think all of those things with Utah and the explosiveness they have offensively, I think that’s always going to be the factor but I think that’s going to be a big factor in this game. I also really believe the special teams will be a big factor in this game.”