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: 4-0 (1-0 B1G)
Four straight wins, including a trouncing of Penn State, had the Wolverines in the national spotlight, but a visit by the Badgers was set up to be a significant clash of Big Ten powers. The actual game itself was pretty sloppy but came down to the wire, as No. 4 Michigan held on 14-7 at home against No. 8 Wisconsin in one of Harbaugh’s best wins at this point.
1. The defense won this one and made no mistakes about it. The Badgers gained just 159 total yards and were kept to only 71 rushing yards, which is no easy feat against a team that loves to run. The Wolverine defense logged three turnovers compared to one Wilton Speight interception, and the lone Wisconsin touchdown came from short field position following that pick.
2. Speight and the Michigan offense had a modest day, but his 46-yard connection with Amara Darboh put the Wolverines ahead by seven in the fourth quarter and was enough for the win. None of the running backs really stood out, which may be expected against a defense like Wisconsin’s, and sometimes teams just need to grind it out against top-10 opponents.
3. That being said, Michigan should have won this game by at least a possession more. After multiple weeks of the special teams units dominating their counterparts, Kenny Allen and Ryan Tice combined to go 0-for-3 on field goals and kept the Badgers in a game where they were clearly the lesser side. It was never going to be a blowout, but the Wolverines kept shooting themselves in the foot during this one.
This game will always be remembered for that interception. How Jourdan Lewis managed to snag that ball in one-handed while running full speed the other direction and jumping too early will always be a mystery, but it was a fitting ending to an excellent performance by the Michigan secondary. Before Lewis’s incredible pick were two by Channing Stribling as well, and quarterback Alex Hornibrook only completed nine of his 25 passes.