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 (2-1 B1G)
With one ranked win down, Michigan had a quick breather before back-to-back matchups against top-10 teams. Illinois was not supposed to provide much resistance, and a 28-point Wolverine lead in the second quarter was going about as smoothly as possible. Then, the road became decidedly bumpier, as No. 16 Michigan had to hold on to a 42-25 win over the Illini.
1. Michigan had a clear game plan, and that was to run the ball all afternoon. Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins were up to the task, each surpassing 100 yards and finding the end zone. As a team, the Wolverines averaged over six yards a carry, and even though the offense went through a drought, the running game was enough to put up a quality number of points.
2. The meltdown has to be discussed, though. After cruising for almost 30 minutes, the Wolverines gave up a late first half touchdown and then 18 straight second half points to make it a 28-25 contest. The defense was getting gashed after starting the game in control, and a fumble by the normally reliable Tru Wilson threw gas on the fire. Though the game ended with a decent margin of victory, it felt very uncomfortable for a large stretch.
3. After the offense finally woke up in the fourth quarter to build back a bit of a cushion, the defense put the game away. Two Illini fumbles — both inside their own 25-yard line — forced by Cam McGrone and Mike Danna killed any chance at a comeback and allowed the Wolverines to escape. The defense was led by Josh Uche, who recorded five of Michigan’s 12 TFLs, including three sacks.
Haskins was the most efficient runner and also the only one of the main three options that did not give away a fumble. Meanwhile, Shea Patterson had a nice start to the game which slowed down in the middle, but he ended with a strong fourth quarter drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones and then ended the game on a one-yard keeper to make it a 17-point affair with six minutes to go.