Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah's Jereme Brooks runs past Michigan's Donovan Warren during the Utes' 25-23 victory in the Big House on Saturday. Like kicker Louie Sakoda, Brooks had some mixed results in the season-opener, but his 55-yard catch set up Utah's first score.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Maybe they should call it Redeem Team II.

It might have been embarrassing — even disastrous — for the Ute football team Saturday except for a couple of players who turned their mistakes around.

Kicker Louie Sakoda and receiver Jereme Brooks each had their moments, good and bad, in Utah's 25-23 win over Michigan. But the big ones were big and the bad ones mostly forgotten in the wake of the Utes' victory. It was a victory over the winningest team in college football history.

"Non-BCS teams, I think, should get a shot at a championship every year," said Sakoda. "If they are good enough, why not give them a chance?"

Particularly when they're willing to give themselves one.

For Sakoda, it was a day of mixed returns. On the positive side, he averaged 47 yards a punt, including one long, high 59-yarder. His most important punt, though, was in the fourth quarter, with the Utes clinging to a two-point lead. Stopped at their own 39, Sakoda pinned Michigan deep in its own territory with a nicely placed 50-yard kick. Michigan took over at its own 10 but couldn't advance.

Sakoda was flawless on field-goal attempts, making kicks of 28, 43, 41 and 53 yards.

But as is often the case with even star players, there were setbacks. Utah charged back from a 7-0 deficit on Corbin Louks' 8-yard touchdown. But Sakoda had the PAT blocked.

"They blocked that PAT and I'm thinking, 'What's going on? Is it my fault, or whatever. ... But we made the adjustments and apparently it worked," he said.

Sakoda's only other glitch was in the fourth quarter. With Utah leading 25-10, Michigan's Mark Moundros broke through and blocked Sakoda's punt. That led to a Michigan touchdown, closing Utah's lead to 25-17.

But Sakoda's ensuing punts of 47 and 50 yards played a major part in Utah hanging on to win.

Brooks' highlight moments all came in the early going. With the game just a couple of minutes old, Michigan's Zoltan Mesko punted after the Ute defense held. But Brooks had the ball knocked out of his hands by Tim North, and Kevin Leach recovered at the Utah 26.

That led to a 7-0 Wolverine lead.

Not to be deterred, Brooks came back on the ensuing possession, gathering a pass for a 55-yard gain, setting up Utah's first score.

"I fumbled that first time, and I guess I was trying too hard, getting too amped up," said Brooks. "But then I got the post (pattern) and it changed my whole world."

That catch was the only one of the game for Brooks.

Brooks and Sakoda both said they were content with the end result, despite the temporary scares, and ended up enjoying their up-and-down day.

"Hearing the silence in the crowd was a feeling I can't describe," said Sakoda.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com