Eighty-three games after Michigan’s comeback, six games in depth against his bitter schedule rival, Captain Comeback has made his biggest comeback to date. Forget about winning the big one, Harbaugh finally got his first against Ohio State.
“He’s the best,” said the Michigan No.5 coach after a life-changing 42-27 win, shattering a streak and slamming the back of the Michigan No.2. Ohio State. “I don’t know if I have something [else] for you. “
That was enough after a win that changed his career arc, his national perception and, oh yes, the Big Ten Championship and college football playoff races. Michigan won the Big Ten East for the first time and will compete in their first Big Ten Championship game in pursuit of their first league title since 2004.
The best way to tell the story of Michigan’s historic victory is through the eyes of others at snow-capped Michigan Stadium.
There was Sarah, the coach’s wife, at the back of the room standing next to her brother John Feurborn. It was decided years ago that Feuerborn would fly out of his Kansas City-area home to be some sort of emotional sherpa on game weekends for the wired coach.
There was Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, who skillfully renegotiated Harbaugh’s contract during the offseason, keeping the schedule intact while serving proper notice.
“I told him ‘I love you’,” Manual said of his trainer.
Before Saturday, Harbaugh’s story in this match had wear on him. He came on Saturday with a 0-5 record against Ohio State and not so much as a division title under his belt in 11 years as an FBS coach at Michigan and Stanford.
You couldn’t see the anxiety publicly. It was inside the program that Harbaugh hung a sign during the offseason that reminded his team who they had to beat. It was under the program that Michigan began work on the state of Ohio just after New Years in the winter.
“We’ve been really playing with these guys since January,” quarterback Cade McNamara said of the Buckeyes. “Every training, every practice, every game, everything we’ve put into this season. It was leaked that we had on our board, ‘What are you doing to beat Ohio State?’ It was something we kept in mind. “
And so, when adversity struck, Harbaugh and his guys didn’t fall apart this time around.
It had been publicized that the Michigan coach, who failed to win the jackpot, cut his salary to $ 4 million and got rid of six assistants in a final volley to do just that … or else .
“He mentioned a quote to us,” McNamara said. “It was ‘Do not fear any circumstance.’ “
And so, they didn’t. Not when they were beaten by Michigan State last month. Not when the critics wrote Harbaugh again. Not when the Buckeyes were scorching the earth and looked a lot like the 2020 Alabama squad that simply outperformed their opponents on the verge of winning the national championship last year.
Not on Saturday. Not when Michigan has apparently responded to all of The Team Down South’s challenges. The Wolverines beat their rivals in a game Bo Schembechler is said to have tightened against him.
The team, the team, the team finally defeated Ohio State for the first time in 3,654 days. Yes, it’s been so long – a decade – since Michigan’s last win in 2011. But Harbaugh was only responsible for the last five games in a losing streak that had reached eight and stretched to 15 of 16. last encounters.
“It sounds like everything about the team at the start,” Harbaugh said. “Every day, every week, every month. It always seemed like the start. “
The Wolverines’ pent-up desire to win The Game manifested itself in 10 Buckeyes penalties, including five false starts against a besieged offensive line. Michigan scored on the first two possessions of the second half to turn their anxiety into a storm field in a blizzard that raged through the night.
“I really think this team was perfectly built to beat Ohio State,” McNamara said. “We thought we could throw the ball and dominate them physically. That’s what happened. We knew that was the mindset we were adopting. We were going to go there in fourth position. We were going to let all the arrows fly. ”
It only took 12 games to prove it. Michigan entered the game after losing just two fumbles all year. His only turnover on Saturday was a McNamara interception in the first half that led to a field goal. The offensive line that pushed UM into the national top 15 blew up a besieged OSU defensive front.
Michigan running back Hassan Haskins scolded for 169 yards and five affected. The Wolverines ran for 294 total yards.
“I was like, ‘I’m not going to fall,’” said the elder.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State Big Ten’s four-game winning streak is dead, as are his playoff chances on the rough, breezy Big House turf.
“It hurts,” said Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who lost for the first time in 26 Big Ten games. “When you live all year, it really hurts, and there was so much to do. This will leave a mark for a while. “
Michigan was hovering so high it won’t need a plane to get to Indianapolis next Saturday for its first Big Ten championship game. He will be aiming for his first outright Big Ten title since 2003. (UM parted ways with their opponent Iowa next Saturday in 2004.)
If Michigan takes up that challenge, it will almost certainly be in the playoffs, possibly as a No.2 seed, according to CBS Sports bowling expert Jerry Palm.
“We knew we could beat them,” said Andrew Stueber, one of four starters to return to the Michigan offensive line. “Now we know what it takes. Now we just have to do it every year. They are human too. We have proven it today. “
The top fell at half time. The two teams sort of left the pitch at the same time and clashed in the tunnel leading from the pitch. It was good old-fashioned hatred with both teams throwing birds while the match officials blew their whistles for… what?
In Michigan’s second possession in the second half, the top came in the Ohio State defense. A play pass from quarterback JJ McCarthy to Roman Wilson totaled 31 yards. A flea flea flea from McNamara to Mike Sainristil rose to 34.
A snap later, another altercation broke out. Wilson was holding the ankle of Cameron Brown of Ohio State, who ripped off Wilson’s helmet. The unsportsmanlike penalty brought the game to OSU 1. Haskins then scored his third touchdown for a 15-point advantage that would be the final margin.
“These guys disrespect us,” said Aidan Hutchinson, the Wolverines’ star defensive end. “They stepped on our jerseys. They talk about hanging 100 on us. “
Hutchinson deserved some sort of voice after a game he dominated. His three sacks gave him a program record 13 for the season.
“I’m ready to die for this, I swear,” he told reporters when asking about the state of Ohio this week.
Hutchinson didn’t have to go that far. It only looked like a human sacrifice as the Big House seemed to be filled with more fans than snowflakes after the bleachers emptied.
Now, having won one big game, several more await Harbaugh: the Big Ten Championship Game, potentially two College Football Playoff games.
Saturday, however, was not the time to think about the future. It was time to soak up the present.
“We’ve done enough,” said Harbaugh, “to beat them today. “