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Harbaugh History: Win No. 16 at Rutgers (2016)


NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

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: 5-0 (2-0 B1G)

With a top-10 win under his belt and an undefeated start to go with it, Harbaugh was rolling in Year Two. The Wolverines had a favorable schedule in the middle of the season, but that would not lead to any feet being taken off the gas. No. 4 Michigan may have struggled a bit on offense against Wisconsin, but that was definitely not the case during a 78-0 massacre of Rutgers.

Three takeaways

1. Was it completely necessary? Probably not, but Michigan had every right to play the game how it wanted and that is more or less what happened. Exactly 600 total yards to 39, four punts compared to 16, and 23 first downs to two (the first of which did not occur until partway through the fourth quarter, drawing applause from both sets of fan bases) — yikes.

2. Michigan ran the ball to start the game and just kept running as the score grew. Karan Higdon had his best day of the year with 108 yards and two touchdowns, and Ty Isaac and Khalid Hill also put up two scores. Meanwhile, Chris Evans led the way with 153 rushing yards, including a 57-yard dash. Jehu Chesson did lay out for a nice 30-yard touchdown in the first quarter, one of the few throws of the game.

3. Despite scoring 78 points, it was the Wolverine defense that really led the way. The Scarlet Knights went 0-for-17 on third down and were literally unable to do anything. Quarterback Chris Laviano went 1-for-8 for six total yards and the running game almost managed to hit a yard per carry but fell just short. Meanwhile everyone on defense was having a field day with Taco Charlton and Ben Gedeon each contributing a pair of TFLs to go towards the team’s 13.

Standout performer

Harbaugh wanted to give New Jersey-native Jabrill Peppers the chance to shine in his home state and the superstar produced. Out of three wildcat carries, Peppers scored twice, and his other rush went 63 yards to put Michigan in the red zone. He had a punt return touchdown get called back on a penalty and launched a couple big hits on defense. The Wolverines did not need Peppers to win this game, but it sure was fun to see him take over when called upon.