This is not a fun article to write and there is no sense in going too in depth. Two wins since 2003. One win since 2011. No wins under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Michigan has been absolutely smacked down by Ohio State in recent history, and the losses have often come at a huge price.
Saturday’s edition of The Game carries stakes as high as ever. Everyone remembers No. 1 vs. No. 2 and No. 2 vs. No. 3. Hopefully the Wolverines can finally come on the right side of a winner-take-all affair. If there ever was a team to break the streak, this team could be the one.
2015: Ohio State 42, Michigan 13 (Ann Arbor)
Since taking over, Harbaugh has rarely been overmatched. Most of his losses have been close games or at least contests where his team stood a chance. However, his first taste of The Game as head coach did not go too well. No. 8 Ohio State trampled No. 10 Michigan at home behind J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott, who both dominated on the ground.
Jake Rudock had a decent day, throwing for 263 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Unfortunately, no Michigan running back could find any success and the home team managed just 57 rushing yards. That proved to be the difference, and the Wolverine defense simply could not stop the Buckeyes from running straight at them all game long.
2016: Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 (Columbus)
Sigh. The No. 3 Wolverines were probably the better team, but No. 2 Ohio State did enough to win in double overtime. While the controversial fourth down spot is seared into everyone’s memories, there were plenty of questionable calls before that point certainly favoring the Buckeyes, leading to a 59-6 penalty yardage discrepancy. Still, Michigan had numerous chances to win the game and could not.
Wilton Speight passed for a couple scores, but gave away two interceptions as well, including a costly pick six early on. Again, the Wolverines could not run the ball, totaling just 91 yards on the ground. It feels like a game that Michigan should have won, but Ohio State won both the yardage and turnover battle.
2017: Ohio State 31, Michigan 20 (Ann Arbor)
Of Harbaugh’s three battles with the Buckeyes, last year felt like the least likely to end in victory. No. 9 Ohio State came in as the better team by most metrics, and the Wolverines faced an uphill battle with John O’Korn under center. Somehow the teams were separated by just one point entering the fourth quarter, but the visitors pulled away at the end.
O’Korn played about as expected, throwing for one score and less than 200 yards. His interception late in the fourth was thrown to absolutely no one and epitomized all of his struggles. Chris Evans and Karan Higdon were fine on the ground, but again the Buckeyes had a formidable run defense. Perhaps with a healthy quarterback the game might have ended differently, but once again the better team came out ahead.