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: 7-2 (4-1 B1G)
With nine games down, Michigan entered the final stretch of the year with back-to-back road contests before The Game at home. Indiana came into the game losers of five straight, but that did not deter the Hoosiers from nearly stealing this one away. It was an outpouring of offense by both teams, as the No. 14 Wolverines eventually came back to win 48-41 in double overtime.
1. This game starts and ends with Jake Rudock. 33-for-46 passing, 440 air yards, 64 rush yards, four regulation touchdowns and a couple more in overtime. The early-season issues completely disappeared after he came back with an injury, and few quarterbacks ever have a game this impressive. The accuracy was excellent and so too was his decision making. Multiple times the fifth-year senior went through his progression to make the right read, and he occasionally kept the ball and picked up first downs with his legs. It was Rudock’s deep passing, though, that really stood out in Bloomington compared to earlier in the year.
2. Despite the gaudy numbers on offense, Michigan was still down 34-27 with just a couple minutes left in the game. Unfazed by the pressure, Rudock drove his team downfield and hit Jehu Chesson in the end zone as time expired. From there he went on to connect with both Jake Butt and Amara Darboh early on in each overtime period to boost the Wolverines to victory. It is tough to stop a quarterback this hot, and Rudock looked fully in control during crunch time.
3. Obviously things did not go as well for the defense. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld had more modest numbers than Rudock, but he still made an impact with 220 passing yards and a couple key carries. It was running back Jordan Howard, however, that really killed the Wolverines, carrying the ball a whopping 35 times for 238 yards and two scores. The defensive line got mauled all game and while Indiana was limited to field goals four times, it was not an impressive showing by Michigan.
Rudock probably belongs here as well, but it is not often a receiver finds the end zone four different times. Chesson really proved himself to be a weapon over the course of 2015, and this was the pinnacle. 10 catches for 207 yards and four touchdowns, including a long 64-yard catch and the game-tying touchdown as the clock neared zero — Chesson did it all in one of the most memorable performances ever by a Wolverines receiver.