Thanks for joining me on a 10-week journey back through all of Jim Harbaugh’s wins at Michigan. While the losses can seem hard to forget, there have been plenty of exciting moments and wins over the past five years.
After detailing each individual contest, I went through and ranked each of Harbaugh’s 47 victories in terms of quality of competition, magnitude of victory, and memorability. The games are grouped in arbitrary buckets with small themes. You can catch up on Wins 25 to 47 here. Below are the final 24.
No. 24 - 2015 vs. Rutgers (49-16)
Harbaugh’s first contest against Rutgers went about as expected, with the opposition not providing too much resistance. The visitors did put up 16 first half points, but it was never a competitive game.
No. 23 - 2018 at Rutgers (42-7)
In 2018 it was actually tied after the first quarter, as the Michigan offense took some time to warm up. Five straight touchdowns later, though, and it was yet another beatdown of the overmatched team.
No. 22 - 2019 vs. Rutgers (52-0)
The most recent matchup between the two sides went about as smoothly as possible, with the Wolverines scoring early and often. The defense was top-notch as well, pitching a shutout.
Big Ten Blowouts
No. 21 - 2017 vs. Maryland (35-10)
Probably the best game played by Brandon Peters, Michigan raced out to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter and never looked back. This final margin could have been bigger had Harbaugh not eased off the gas.
No. 20 - 2016 vs. Illinois (41-8)
Like Maryland, games against Illinois do not seem to be that memorable. This was a clean blowout, as everything was clicking on both sides of the ball, and another game where the Wolverines seemed to let up after halftime.
No. 19 - 2019 at Maryland (38-7)
Road wins are always valuable, and a beatdown of the Terrapins this past season was no exception. The scoring started early as Giles Jackson took the opening kickoff back 97 yards for the score, and the lead only grew from there.
No. 18 - 2019 at Indiana (39-14)
Harbaugh’s lone comfortable win against the Hoosiers was a breath of fresh air. Though Michigan did not grab the lead until midway through the second quarter, it became very clear which team was more talented. An 18-point third quarter more than sealed the deal.
No. 17 - 2018 vs. Nebraska (56-10)
The 2018 Cornhuskers were not good at all, but that did not stop this game from being extremely fun. The Wolverines put up 20 points in the first quarter and 19 points in the second quarter, absolutely obliterating a helpless Nebraska team to open conference play.
No. 16 - 2016 vs. Maryland (59-3)
Michigan was rolling throughout most of 2016, though this game was sadly the end of the nine-game undefeated start to the year. Points came all throughout the afternoon and the defense stayed sharp, allowing just a garbage time field goal.
No. 15 - 2016 at Rutgers (78-0)
An absolute slaughter and about as one-sided as a football game can ever be, Michigan just poured it on in New Jersey, outgaining the Scarlet Knights 600 to 39 and not allowing a first down until the fourth quarter.
No. 14 - 2016 vs. Colorado (45-28)
This was a tough win that went back-and-forth into the third quarter before the Wolverines finally pulled away. It looked like a good victory over a Power 5 team at the time, but it started to grow in credibility throughout the year as the Buffaloes eventually made it to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
No. 13 - 2019 vs. Iowa (10-3)
All of the scoring came in the first 20 minutes, as the game turned into a traditional Big Ten slugfest. The No. 14 Hawkeyes turned the ball over four times, which ultimately was the difference between the ranked sides.
No. 12 - 2017 vs. Florida (33-17)
The Wolverines opened the 2017 season against the No. 17 Gators in Dallas in one of Harbaugh’s biggest non-conference games to date. Wilton Speight struggled early, throwing consecutive pick sixes in the first half, but the defense held its own, allowing just a field goal.
No. 11 - 2015 vs. BYU (31-0)
This was a real toss-up going into the game but played out to be anything but that. Harbaugh got his first ranked win, crushing the No. 22 Cougars thanks to a dominant 24-point second quarter. This was the first of three straight commanding shutouts.
No. 10 - 2015 vs. Northwestern (38-0)
The third of these shutouts came over the No. 13 Wildcats. Jehu Chesson led off with an opening kick return touchdown, and the rest of the Wolverines chipped in as well, putting the game away before halftime.
Taking Care Of Business
No. 9 - 2019 vs. Michigan State (44-10)
The 2019 Spartans were not very good, but that has not stopped this game from being close in the past. Though Michigan was shut out in the first quarter, the tides turned soon after, and it became a very satisfying win by the end of the afternoon.
No. 8 - 2016 at Michigan State (32-23)
The Spartans were not great in 2016 either, but the game went a little differently in East Lansing. The Wolverines jumped out to a 30-10 lead in the third quarter, but it eventually narrowed to a one-score game before Jabrill Peppers added a late exclamation point for Harbaugh’s first win in the rivalry.
No. 7 - 2016 vs. Penn State (49-10)
Any blowout of Penn State is a good win, but this one looked even better once the Nittany Lions ripped off nine straight wins to claim the Big Ten title. The Michigan run game was unstoppable and led to the legendary quote about running the same exact play over and over and over against a broken defense.
No. 6 - 2018 vs. Wisconsin (38-13)
It was a slow start for the Wolverines, who led just 13-7 at halftime and 21-7 after three, but it was always theirs to win. The No. 15 Badgers were overmatched on both sides of the ball and were fortunate to stay in it as long as they did, as the home crowd enjoyed a big night game win.
The Top Five
No. 5 - 2018 vs. Penn State (42-7)
This was a statement win over the No. 14 Nittany Lions, who scored just once with two minutes remaining in the game. Michigan was on a tear and was unrelenting on defense, allowing 186 total yards and supplementing a solid offensive performance, capping off an impressive three-game stretch.
No. 4 - 2016 vs. Wisconsin (14-7)
Stalled drives and missed field goals kept the scoreline close, but the No. 8 Badgers were fortunate to stay in this one. The Wolverines were excellent on defense and just good enough on offense for Harbaugh to record his first victory over a top-10 opponent.
No. 3 - 2015 vs. Florida (41-7)
Few games have been more fun than this one. The 2015 season did not go perfectly, but it ended in about the best way possible. Michigan earned a commanding win over the No. 19 Gators in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl thanks to an outstanding final performance from Jake Rudock.
No. 2 - 2018 at Michigan State (21-7)
A rare ranked road win, this one was important for everything surrounding it. With the rain and snow coming down and pregame antics setting the tone, the Wolverines turned it on against the No. 24 Spartans, smothering them on defense and allowing just 94 yards. A 79-yard Donovan Peoples-Jones touchdown put the visitors ahead and helped secure Paul Bunyan.
No. 1 - 2019 vs. Notre Dame (45-14)
A stormy night saw both heavy rain and drenched maize towels fall from the sky for the last meeting between two historic rivals for almost 15 years. Michigan was firmly in control for most of the night and embarrassed the No. 8 Irish, giving Harbaugh another signature win and a satisfying end to this chapter of the rivalry.