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Harbaugh History: Win No. 35 at Michigan State (2018)

The Wolverines defeated the Spartans and the weather for a ranked road win.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/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: 6-1 (4-0 B1G)

Momentum was strong after the drubbing of Wisconsin, but next the Wolverines were scheduled to face a ranked rival on the road. Michigan State always seemed to have the advantage in games with adverse weather, but despite the crazy climate all throughout the afternoon — including a 75-minute first quarter delay — would stop No. 6 Michigan from bringing home a 21-7 win over the No. 24 Spartans.

Three takeaways

1. Predictably, this game was pretty sloppy. Any game with a lightning delay that turns into snow and hail later is going to be messy, as are most rivalry games in general. Combining the two led to some classic Midwestern football and a grind-it-out affair. Michigan looked in trouble after fumbling the ball at its own nine-yard line to allow the Spartans to tie the game at seven and then giving it up again after recovering a Michigan State fumbled punt, but these mishaps only slowed down the inevitable.

2. Eventually things righted themselves late in the third quarter. With the game tied and the Wolverines starting from their own 21-yard line, Shea Patterson hit a streaking Donovan Peoples-Jones for the go-ahead score and perhaps the most memorable play of the season. With how the Spartans had struggled up to that point, a mere seven-point lead felt like it would be enough.

3. The other memorable part of this game happened before kickoff, when Devin Bush was run into by the Spartans during warmup. Bush did not take kindly to this and demonstrated his reaction upon the logo at midfield and then all throughout the game. The Michigan defense allowed absolutely nothing all day, giving up just 94 total yards and zero third down conversations. Passes sailed comically high over receivers’ heads while Bush and company gave no inch to any Michigan State player on offense.

Standout performer

Patterson put up 212 total yards in the air, connecting on the aforementioned Peoples-Jones bomb, as well as a key third down touchdown to open up the scoring. Once again, though, the junior used his legs to pick up big yards. Following Michigan’s go ahead score, Patterson orchestrated a 13-play, 84-yard drive to put the game away, highlighted by two big option keeps. The first came on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive alive and the second brought the Wolverines inside the 10-yard line, setting up the kill.