ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Travis Wilson tried to leap past a defender and flipped over, landing awkwardly on his head.
It was a scary play — especially since the Utah quarterback only recently returned from a problem with an artery in his brain.
"It was a pretty nasty spill to take," coach Kyle Whittingham said.
Wilson had a cut under his nose and needed stitches, but he was able to return and lead the Utes to a 26-10 victory over Michigan on Saturday. The junior threw for 172 yards and a touchdown, and Utah's defense did not allow any points after the Wolverines kicked a field goal on their opening drive.
Wilson has thrown seven touchdown passes with no interceptions this season — after throwing 16 of each last season.
Wilson missed the end of 2013 after the team discovered a preexisting medical condition during a concussion diagnosis. Doctors found damage to an artery in his brain, but in February, Wilson found out it was stable, and in June, he was cleared for this season.
After the win over Michigan, he had what looked like bruises on his face. He was trying to gain a few extra yards in the second quarter when he tried to leap over linebacker Jake Ryan. Wilson was hit by linebacker Joe Bolden — and his helmet came off when his head hit the ground.
"It was definitely scary," Wilson said. "I definitely need to be smarter about that situation."
But he was able to come back, and Wilson's 28-yard touchdown pass to Dres Anderson early in the third quarter put Utah ahead 20-10.
"Travis has been through a lot, and I knew that wasn't going to hold him back," Anderson said. "It was just a little nosebleed. He came back and gave it his all. He did great."
After back-to-back losing season, the Utes (3-0) are off to a good start this year. They open Pac-12 play next weekend against Washington State. The trip to Michigan was a memorable one, because of the victory and a rainstorm that caused a lightning delay of 2 hours, 24 minutes in the fourth quarter.
"That was an interesting two hours, a little over two hours," Whittingham said. "We didn't know what the situation was going to be. We kept our guys focused, got some nutrition in them and fed them. We got the pads off them. We had them lay down, relax. We've got a sports scientist that worked closely with us and told us to get them up and walk around every 20 minutes or so and then lay back down on their backs."
The score was 26-10 at that point, and most Michigan fans didn't bother staying for the rest of the game. The Wolverines (2-2) have struggled to score against solid competition this year. They lost 31-0 to Notre Dame, and their only touchdown Saturday came on an interception return against Wilson's backup.
Quarterback Devin Gardner went 14 of 26 for 148 yards with two interceptions, and the Wolverines struggled to protect him from Utah's pass rush. Shane Morris replaced Gardner in the fourth quarter. He threw an interception and lost a fumble.
"We start a drive, we have some success with it, we get a sack, so you're behind the sticks again. You don't like to play offense that way," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "I think the ball security issues are probably our biggest issue when you look at it overall."