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Harbaugh History: Win No. 14 vs. Penn State (2016)

Michigan smashed a Penn State squad that looked helpless on defense.

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

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: 3-0 (0-0 B1G)

Colorado put up a fight for about a half, but Michigan finished off the non-conference schedule with three pretty convincing wins. Up next was a visit from a Penn State team that did not appear too impressive coming in and looked even worse by the time the game ended. As we know, that team wound up winning its next nine games on the way to a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth, but that seemed far removed from the 49-10 beatdown it received from No. 4 Michigan.

Three takeaways

1. This was as dominant of a performance as a run game can put on. De’Veon Smith carried the ball 12 times for 107 yards and a score, Karan Higdon added 81 yards and two touchdowns of his own, Ty Isaac tallied 74 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Evans used his eight carries for 56 yards while finding the end zone. All four running backs feasted, as did Khalid Hill who of course punched one in from the 1-yard line.

2. The other side of the ball was just as impressive, with 13 total TFL, a fumble recovery by Lavert Hill, and an interception by Mike McCray. Saquon Barkley had just 59 yards and no scores, and Trace McSorely averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt. The Nittany Lions did not get on the board until making it 28-3 in the third quarter and were outgained 515 to 191.

3. A couple other random nuggets: this game was so bad that even Devin Asiasi found the end zone for his only Michigan touchdown. Jabrill Peppers should have had his second punt return touchdown, nearly taking a first quarter punt to the house before stumbling on his own inside the 10-yard line. Wilton Speight was not his sharpest, but he did not need to do much in the air with the way the Wolverines were running the ball.

Standout performer

The offensive line was on a different level, as Michigan averaged 6.7 yards per carry for 326 total yards and six scores. Speight summed it up perfectly: “I think there was one drive in the third or fourth quarter where we called the same play eight times in a row. We would just flip it back and forth. I started laughing looking at the play call because they would do the same signal and the same number every time.”