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: 5-1 (3-0 B1G)
The Wolverines had won five straight games but had not faced a real test since dropping the opener. The next three games would be season-defining one way or another, with ranked Wisconsin and Penn State coming to the Big House with a trip to East Lansing in between. The first part of the test was no problem for No. 12 Michigan, who breezed past the No. 15 Badgers 38-13.
1. The Michigan offense started slowly, and five different drives throughout the game ended in field goal attempts (with Quinn Nordin connecting on three of them). It really sparked at the start of the second quarter, though, as Shea Patterson kept the ball and raced 81 yards down the sideline to set up the game’s first touchdown. Patterson had a modest day in the air, throwing for just 124 yards, but he carried the ball a total of nine times, including a seven-yard keeper for a score.
2. Even though the offense did not pull away until late, the Wolverine defense ensured that the home team was always in control. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook passed for just 25 yards on three completions until the final drive of the day to go with two costly interceptions. While the Badgers did find some success on the ground, they were just 2-for-11 on third down attempts and reached the red zone just once before garbage time.
3. Karan Higdon led the way on the ground with 105 yards and the opening score. Michigan wound up averaging 6.7 yards per carry thanks to both Hidgon and Patterson and also a late touchdown run for Dylan McCaffrey, as the backup quarterback showed off his wheels on a 44-yard scamper. None of the receivers did too much as Patterson only threw the ball 20 times, but there was enough of a threat to help out the run game.
Not a lot shows up on the stat sheet, but Michigan made it absolutely miserable for Hornibrook. David Long had a pair of pass break-ups, Devin Bush had a violent sack, and the secondary gave him very few options all night long. Josh Metellus had a big pick at the end of the first half that led to Michigan points, but it was a stellar Lavert Hill snag on a fourth quarter pick six that sealed the game for the Wolverines.