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Harbaugh History: Win No. 36 vs. Penn State (2018)

A third prominent win in a row put all eyes on Michigan.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 03 Penn State at Michigan

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: 7-1 (5-0 B1G)

Beating Wisconsin big at home boosted Michigan into the top 10, and beating a ranked Michigan State on the road was yet another obstacle easily hurdled. However, it was really the Penn State game that put it all together, demonstrating just how good this team really was. Maybe this was the peak, but there was no denying that the No. 5 Wolverines were the real deal, and a 42-7 demolition of the No. 14 Nittany Lions wrapped up a near perfect three-game stretch.

Three takeaways

1. The offense was simply clicking to the tune of 403 total yards and an 8-for-14 mark on third down conversions. Though the Wolverines led just 14-0 at halftime, it was already feeling fairly lopsided as each of Michigan’s non-scoring drives in the half still reached Penn State territory. Five different Wolverines wound up finding the end zone one offense and an excellent game from the offensive line made this a successful team effort.

2. Not to be outdone, the defense continued its vicious streak, limiting the Nittany Lions to just over 100 yards before their final drive of the game. Four Michigan defenders had sacks and David Long and Brandon Watson both had key interceptions, with the latter returning his to the house to kill off the game at 28-0. This is about as dominant as the defense could have been and was a nice bit of revenge for the previous year’s trip to Happy Valley.

3. This game was yet another example of how valuable Karan Higdon was to the Michigan Wolverines. He shared the backfield with some talented teammates, but time and time again, it was Higdon who became the focal point of the attack. It was another big day for the running back against Penn State, putting up 132 yards and a score, including a nice 50-yard dash on the third play of Michigan’s opening drive.

Standout performer

The defense was lights out over this three-game stretch, but it also was the blossoming of Shea Patterson. Michigan did not need to attack through the air too much against Penn State, but he still hit a couple receivers in the end zone to go with a high completion percentage and no interceptions. His movement on the ground once again stood out most though, with a couple big first down pickups and a nice read to score the Wolverines’ first touchdown.