NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR (AP) — A frustrating day had given way to a surreal evening when Jake Ryan and the Michigan Wolverines finally left the field following another discouraging loss.
This one included four more turnovers, some boos from the crowd and a lightning delay that just about emptied Michigan’s massive home stadium.
“That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen — playing at home with no one in the stadium,” Ryan said. “The whole thing was just weird.”
Travis Wilson returned after a frightening fall in the first half to throw a third-quarter touchdown pass, and Utah finally finished off a 26-10 win over Michigan on Saturday night after a lightning delay in the fourth quarter of 2 hours, 24 minutes.
The game was delayed with 7:51 remaining, and when it resumed, not much was left of the announced crowd of 103,890. Michigan (2-2) was already down 26-10 at that point.
Wilson left the game in the second quarter after he tried to leap over Ryan, a Michigan linebacker, and landed on his head. The Utes (3-0) led 13-10 at halftime anyway, and Wilson found Dres Anderson for a 28-yard touchdown early in the third.
After the delay, the teams came out to the wet field and finished in front of about 105,000 empty seats. Red-clad Utah fans, who had been mostly relegated to Michigan Stadium’s upper reaches, took advantage of the unique opportunity and went to the sections down lower, right behind their team’s sideline.
“I felt like it was the Ute House,” Anderson said. “We heard so much about the Big House. It was the Ute House at the end.”
Michigan’s running game looked improved against the likes of Appalachian State and Miami (Ohio), but in two games against tougher competition, the Wolverines haven’t been much of a threat offensively. They lost 31-0 to Notre Dame and went without an offensive touchdown against Utah.
There were a handful of boos Saturday as the offense sputtered.
“I don’t like that with 18-22-year-old kids. I know the fans pay their money and they have the right to do that, but I don’t like it,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “If the boos are for me, that’s fine.”
Michigan has now turned the ball over 11 times over the last three games. Devin Gardner went 14 of 26 for 148 yards with two interceptions, and the Wolverines struggled to protect him from Utah’s aggressive pass rush.
Wilson went 14 of 20 for 172 yards, although he was shaken up after a scary play in the second quarter. Trying to gain a few extra yards, the Utah quarterback attempted to jump over Ryan and ended up being hit by linebacker Joe Bolden. Wilson was flipped over to the point where his head hit the ground and his helmet came off.
Kendal Thompson came in to play quarterback, and later in the second, Michigan defensive tackle Willie Henry intercepted one of his passes and returned it 7 yards for a touchdown and a 10-all tie.
Andy Phillips kicked a 38-yard field goal for Utah on the final play of the half. Prior to that, Michigan was called for a sideline violation, and Hoke appeared to have a couple heated words for defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
“I’ve known Greg since 1984, and I can guarantee you that wasn’t the first or last time that two competitive men have had a … I wouldn’t even call it an argument,” Hoke said. “More like a discussion. You should see the discussions we have playing euchre.”
But it wasn’t Mattison’s defense that was the problem. Michigan never made it to the red zone on offense.
Michigan led 3-0 in the first quarter and had Utah backed up when Bubba Poole took Wilson’s swing pass and went 67 yards. Poole might have scored on the play if he hadn’t outrun some of his own blockers toward the end, and the Utes had to settle for a field goal.
Kaelin Clay scored on a 66-yard punt return in the second quarter to put Utah up 10-3.
Shane Morris replaced Gardner in the fourth quarter with the Wolverines down 16, but he also threw an interception. The weather delay began immediately after that.
Hoke said after the game it was too early to assess the quarterback situation.
Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess returned after missing a game with an apparent leg injury and caught four passes for 82 yards.
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