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. While this is clearly a solid mark and something many schools would dream of, the maize and blue faithful is obviously hoping for something more.
However, in times like these it makes sense to focus on the positive. Thus begins a 47-game journey, replaying each of Harbaugh’s wins as the head coach in Ann Arbor. While the losses do exist — and are often more memorable than the victories, unfortunately — they are not very fun to relive and there is no need to reopen any wounds. On to Win No. 1!
Setting the stage: 0-1 (0-0 B1G)
Harbaugh had the unenviable task of beginning his Michigan tenure on a Thursday night road game against a Power-5 opponent. Utah beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor in 2014, but obviously much had changed between that contest and September 2015. Still, the result stayed the same, as Michigan shot itself in the foot too many times, including three Jake Rudock interceptions to drop the season opener. Fortunately, he turned it around in the home opener, convincingly beating Oregon State 35-7.
1. As is tradition, the Beavers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead as Michigan was not ready to go in the first quarter. However, the defense was absolutely dominant after giving up the touchdown, allowing under 50 yards for the rest of the game and consistently getting pressure, making life miserable for whoever was under center for Oregon State. The visitors averaged just 1.8 yards per rush and did not reach Michigan territory after halftime.
2. Rudock played like a fifth-year senior who was learning a new offense. He was solid in the short passing game, squarely hitting his receivers and using his legs to avoid some pressure. There were bumps as well, though, as he tallied another interception and logged just 180 yards without a score. Overall he was fine and could have had a pretty good day if some blatant pass interference penalties were actually called.
3. Harbaugh gave the fans what they wanted, losing his mind on a roughing the punter call on a bobbled snap late in the second quarter. The flag moved the Beavers up past midfield and gave them a chance to possibly take the lead before halftime. However, the drive quickly stalled out and lead to another punt and justice was served. A horrendous snap sailed over the punter’s head and ended up almost 50 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Wolverines punched it in the end zone to go up 17-7 and never looked back.
De’Veon Smith did what he does: run hard. The junior rumbled his way to 126 yards and found the end zone three times. Smith was not the most electric runner, but against a defense like this (which also tired as the game progressed) he was the perfect option. He even added receptions on a fourth down leading to the first score and a two-point conversion later in the game.