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: 0-0 (0-0 B1G)
Year Three of the Harbaugh era began with lofty expectations once again despite a disappointing end to 2016. The main weapons on offense graduated, as did much of the defense, but Michigan did benefit from a returning starter at quarterback and a somewhat favorable schedule. First up was a neutral site battle with No. 17 Florida, a game that the No. 11 Wolverines won even more convincingly than the 33-17 score suggests.
1. Michigan outplayed Florida to the tune of 433 yards to 192, yet it was the Gators who entered halftime ahead. Two Wilton Speight pick sixes on consecutive drives instantly resparked the quarterback debate, and Harbaugh only furthered this uncertainty by giving John O’Korn some snaps in the second quarter. Speight did not have the best game, but he was always going to be the starter. A 46-yard bomb to Tarik Black looked like it might be the start of a great career for the freshman receiver; unfortunately, that play would be the high-water mark.
2. The Wolverine defense allowed just three points on the afternoon and were lights out. The front seven left little room to run, as the Gators tallied as many total rushing yards as the defense recorded tackles for loss (11). The tide really swung at the start of the third quarter, as Florida fumbles on a kickoff return and the following possession put Michigan ahead by multiple possessions.
3. As it did for Black, this game will always stand out for Quinn Nordin as one that instantly set the bar very high. The freshman kicker was seen as a rare talent and lived up to that hype in his first game, going 4-for-6 with two field goals from 50 and 55 yards out. However, he also missed a 32-yard try, foreshadowing some up-and-down trials that would lie ahead.
The Wolverines had a balanced attack in Dallas, but on three separate occasions it was Ty Isaac who broke into the open field for huge plays. First it was a 36-yard scamper on third-and-13 to get into the red zone, then it was 18 yards on a fourth-and-1 that led to a Michigan touchdown right after half, and he later converted yet another third-and-long on the ground. While he did not find the end zone, Isaac led the way with 114 yards and consistently charged through an unprepared Florida defense.