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: 4-1 (1-1 B1G)
Game number two did not go so well for John O’Korn, as the backup quarterback tallied five interceptions against Michigan State in heavy rain. Harbaugh chose to stick with him, though, and hoped to see some stability from his quarterback. Though No. 17 Michigan was able to hold on with a 27-20 overtime win over Indiana, there were some serious doubts forming regarding the signal caller.
1. O’Korn was not good in his second start of the year. The Houston transfer threw for under 60 yards and was lucky to not have an interception. Too many times he simply missed throws to open receivers and he lacked any sort of consistency. Accordingly, Michigan turned its focus to the ground where the run game put together 271 yards and all three of the team’s touchdowns. The run game was more or less just Karan Higdon — more on him later.
2. The game wound up coming down to overtime, but it really should have ended sooner. Lavert Hill made an outstanding pick with Michigan up 10 and just six minutes left in the game. However, Indiana forced a couple of Michigan punts, got a huge return on one to set up a touchdown and then hit a field goal as time expired to notch the score at 20. While there was maybe some fortune there, this really came down to poor execution by the Wolverines on both sides of the ball.
3. In overtime, Higdon did what he had all afternoon and raced past Indiana defenders to score on the very first play. Just as it did two years prior, the game then came down to a fourth-and-goal try by the Hoosiers. This time it was Tyree Kinnel who came up with the game-winner, picking off a floater from Peyton Ramsey who was under immense pressure from Chase Winovich. Overall the defense put up a solid effort, and aside from the last few minutes of regulation, Indiana was not doing much on offense for most of the game.
As mentioned before, the Michigan offense turned into a hand-off strategy, and Higdon was the one who benefited most. The junior quickly established himself as the most successful back and dwarfed his teammates with 25 carries. Higdon totaled exactly 200 yards on the day and found the end zone three times, including that overtime opener, as well as a 59-yard sprint to give the Wolverines a 10-point cushion in the fourth quarter that they would use every bit of. With a struggling quarterback at the helm, Higdon took over and saved the offense.