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How Michigan football has fared after the bye week in the Harbaugh era

We take a look at how Michigan does in its games immediately following the bye week.

Army v Michigan Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

With Michigan on a bye week, we decided to take a look at a different type of recent history: how the Wolverines fare when coming off the bye under coach Jim Harbaugh.

In theory, the extra week off should allow teams to be more rested, healthy and prepared for whatever opponent they face next, but that’s not always the case. Here’s a look a each game Michigan has played following the bye in the last four seasons:

2018: Week 10 vs. Penn State, 42-7 win

The Wolverines had a week nine bye last year after their win over Michigan State. That time off served U-M well, dominating the Nittany Lions in Ann Arbor. Michigan ran for 259 yards as a team, with Karan Hidon leading the way with 132 and a touchdown.

It was a revenge game for Michigan, and brought the team’s record to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten. U-M was No. 5 and Penn State was No. 14 at the time. The win bumped U-M up to No. 4.

2017: Week 6 vs. Michigan State, 14-10 loss

Michigan had week five off in 2017 after it began the season 4-0 with a win over Purdue. The bye week seemingly came at a good time as the Wolverines shifted to John O’Korn at quarterback following Wilton Speight’s injury. However, things didn’t go as planned.

The Wolverines looked awful against the Spartans and dropped the game at home in a rain-filled contest. Michigan’s season only got worse.

2016: Week 8 vs. Illinois, 41-8 win

Michigan used its bye week in week seven to get ready for a beat-down of the Illini. Speight threw for two touchdowns as No. 3 Michigan improved to 7-0. Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr. complted 4-of-15 passes.

U-M ran for 270 yards as a team.

2015: Week 9 at Minnesota, 29-26 win

The week eight bye probably came at a poor time for the Wolverines, it was the week after Michigan’s disaster finish against Michigan State. However, Michigan went on the road and earned a win, even if it was a sloppy affair. Jake Rudock and Speight each threw touchdown passes in this one.

U-M went to 6-2 with the victory and would win each of its next three games.


During the Harbaugh era, Michigan is 3-1 coming off the bye week. Last year’s win against Penn State was easily the most impressive of the three, but even that may not be a tough a task as going on the road to Wisconsin next week.

Wisconsin is also on a bye this week, which means the Badgers get the same amount of time to prepare for Michigan as U-M gets to prepare for Wisconsin. Running back Jonathan Taylor already has 237 yards and five touchdowns, while new quarterback Jack Coan has also been impressive, throwing for 564 yards and five scores with a 76.3 percent completion percentage.

Michigan enters the game ranked No. 10, and Wisconsin enters as No. 14 — just like Penn State was last year. ESPN’s FPI gives Michigan a 33.6 percent chance to win the game.