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: 7-2 (4-2 B1G)
They say to throw out the records when it comes to rivalry games, and that more or less had stayed true for Harbaugh’s experiences against Michigan State. Even in the wins, the Wolverines did not really pull away on the scoreboard, and both losses at home were avoidable. With a bad Spartan team coming to Ann Arbor, No. 15 Michigan was finally able to put together a complete performance, routing Michigan State 44-10.
1. It was actually the Spartans who led 7-0 after the first quarter, as Michigan’s habit of starting slow seemed to return. However, it was all Wolverines from there, as the home team put up double-digit points in each of the remaining quarters and doubled the total yardage 467 to 220. 24 straight points after falling behind allowed the Wolverines to enter into cruise control, although that did not stop the beatdown.
2. Even a weak Michigan State team typically has a good run defense, and the Wolverines were limited to under 100 yards on the ground. That did not seem to matter, though, as the passing game was happy to take over. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, Nick Eubanks, and Cornelius Johnson all were on the receiving end of touchdown passes, while Ronnie Bell led the way with an impressive 150 yards.
3. Of course, the Michigan defense was ready to go. The Spartans managed just 1.8 yards per carry, while Brian Lewerke threw costly interceptions to both Ambry Thomas and Lavert Hill, and after their one scoring drive there was not much room for them to operate. The Wolverines held their rivals to a 2-for-13 mark on third down attempts, and more or less suffocated the Spartan attack throughout the afternoon.
Not every game down the stretch was a good one for Shea Patterson, but the senior showed up against Michigan State. Patterson was a sharp 24-for-33, throwing for 384 yards with four touchdowns and no turnovers. Whether it was downfield or near the line, the quarterback was just about as accurate as he had been all season, and he was nifty on his feet as well, picking up a couple first downs.