Traditional rivals they are not, but who says that doesn’t make it exciting. The Utah Utes and Michigan Wolverines have scheduled a home and home series to begin in 2014. Utah posted the announcement on their athletics website Wednesday.
Ann Arbor gets the first match-up opening day of 2014. In 2015 the series shifts to Salt Lake City in Rice-Eccles Stadium. A slight wrinkle to the setup is the game to be played in Utah. When the Utes host Michigan, the game will be played on September 3rd of 2015. The aforementioned date will be a Thursday, a day the Wolverines have yet to play football.
In the press release posted on the Utes team site, head coach Kyle Whittingham praised the upcoming meeting between both programs,
“The game-day atmosphere in Ann Arbor is a special experience for players and fans alike. We also look forward to hosting Michigan in Salt Lake City, allowing the MUSS and all our fans the chance to give the Wolverines a taste of what game day at Rice-Eccles Stadium is all about.”
The series is good news for Utes fans who enjoy seeing big time opposition outside of the Pac-12 conference. The only non-conference foe on the horizon for Whittingham’s bunch is in-state rival Utah State as both schools will renew the Battle of the Brothers in 2013 and 2015.
As the college football landscape changes seemingly on a daily basis, it can be difficult to surmise what exactly a rivalry is anymore. The Holy War with BYU is also in jeopardy as the Cougars are independent and the Utes are members of the Pac-12. A deterrent for keeping the series alive is the much tougher conference schedule the Utes face along with only having three non-conference games to play with.
Michigan is no doubt a risk for the Utes who would probably prefer “directional” schools as breathers before the real conference season begins. What can be ascertained from the two Michigan games is that both schools are willing to forgo the safer route and give the fans something to anticipate.
Let’s hope other Pac-12 and Big Ten schools continue to follow suit.