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Harbaugh History: Win No. 32 at Northwestern (2018)

The Wolverines squeezed by a tricky Wildcats team in Evanston.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 29 Michigan at Northwestern Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via 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: 3-1 (1-0 B1G)

Michigan cruised through three relatively comfortable wins at home, including a thrashing of Nebraska to open conference play. Up next was a trip to Northwestern, a team that has often caused stress for the Wolverines on the road. 2018 was no different, with No. 14 Michigan winning 20-17 on a late touchdown after falling behind early.

Three takeaways

1. For whatever reason, Michigan was not looking ready to start this game. The Wildcats put up points on each of their first three possessions to jump out to a surprising 17-0 lead just minutes into the second quarter. The rest of the game was all Wolverines, although it took until the final five minutes for the visitors to actually take the lead. There were plenty of positives to go around, but Michigan should not have trailed this game for 50ish minutes.

2. Shea Patterson did not record a touchdown, but he had a pretty good day overall. The junior threw for 196 yards through the air, but perhaps made the biggest impact with his legs, keeping the ball for multiple first downs in the second half. This was an element to Patterson that was still somewhat new, and one that would show up again over the next few weeks.

3. After the first three Northwestern drives, the Michigan defense went into lockdown mode. The Wolverines allowed under 1.0 yards per carry and ended the game with seven straight Wildcat punts and an expired clock. Seemingly everyone contributed: Chase Winovich recorded three tackles for loss, while Josh Uche, Kwitty Paye, and Carlo Kemp each had two apiece.

Standout performer

Again, it was Karan Higdon who unlocked the opposing defense. Carrying the ball a remarkable 30 times, Higdon racked up 115 yards and two scores, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter. The running back also infamously received one of the most baffling penalty calls in recent Michigan history, negating a long Patterson scamper on a holding call in which he was dragged to the ground by the defender. It did not wind up mattering in the end, but it delayed the Wolverine comeback for another drive.