Jim Harbaugh has completed five seasons in charge of the Michigan Wolverines with consistent but not exciting results. He has amassed a .723 winning percentage with each year ending between eight and 10 wins. Though the maize and blue faithful may be hoping for something more, this is not the time to dwell on the negatives!
With plenty of time to kill during the offseason, join us as we review each of Harbaugh’s 47 wins as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. While the losses do exist — and are often more memorable than the victories, unfortunately — they are not very fun to relive so I am skipping them because this is supposed to be a happy exercise!
Setting the stage: 6-2 (3-1 B1G)
The Wolverines had two games come down to the very end, choking against Michigan State and getting a little fortunate against Minnesota. A home date against Rutgers (1-4 in conference) was a nice change of pace and an opportunity for the team, especially the defense, to get back on track. No. 17 Michigan cruised to a 49-16 victory that would have been even steeper were it not for a Scarlet Knights’ kickoff return for a touchdown and a big punt return to set up a field goal at the end of the first half.
1. Just about everyone on offense had a nice day, boosted by Jake Rudock returning after leaving the Minnesota game injured. De’Veon Smith led the way again with 73 yards and a score, and he could have had more had the game not turned into a blowout so quickly. Jake Butt had his best game of the year with 102 receiving yards, and that number would have been higher if a certain “intent to deceive” penalty were not called. Both Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson found the end zone as well, as the Wolverines took a 35-16 into halftime.
2. This was a great bounce back effort for the defense, who barely allowed anything outside of garbage time. As mentioned above, special teams are what really let down the Wolverines, leading to 10 of Rutgers’ 16 points. There was a long 54-yard rush that led to the Knights’ first field goal, but outside of that Michigan was locked in. Chris Wormley had a solid day with a pair of sacks and Jarrod Wilson logged his first pick of the year.
3. For the second week in a row, Jabrill Peppers was all over the place, clearly affecting the way Rutgers lined up on defense. Multiple times he drew defenders away from his teammates, and when he did get the ball in his hands he found his way into the end zone on an impressive catch and run out of the backfield. On defense Peppers continued to be all over, logging six tackles and chasing down runners who appeared to be in the clear.
Rudock had looked average during the first half of the season, but something changed after leaving the prior game injured. Sure it was against Rutgers, but the quarterback was superb all afternoon, going 18-for-25 with 337 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Essentially every pass catcher was involved, and Rudock consistently put the ball where it needed to be. He looked like a different player than earlier in the year and commanded the offense like a fifth-year senior should.