Jim Harbaugh, The King of the North. While Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are fighting for the Iron Throne, the north has bent the knee to Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. House Buckeye is no longer on the throne, as many in Columbus want Ryan Day to be sent to the wall.
Two years removed from almost losing his job and instead accepting a reduced salary with incentives, Harbaugh is 24-2 with back-to-back wins over Ohio State. It is safe to assume that Michigan will win the Big Ten again, with only Purdue standing in their way. Even if they lose — they won’t — they will most likely make the College Football Playoff for the second time in program history.
Coming into the season, there was a lot of speculation on what Michigan was going to be. Not that last year was a fluke, but this team lost Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo, and Dax Hill, among others, plus their offensive and defensive coordinators. Under normal circumstances, it would be hard to bounce back, but add in Jim Harbaugh aggressively pursuing the NFL and a botched quarterback competition, and it was fair to question if Harbaugh could lead Michigan back to the mountaintop, or if the Big Ten would revert to the norm and run through Columbus.
Harbaugh and the Wolverines silenced the doubters emphatically with a 12-0 season and an explosive beat down of Ohio State.
After this year’s version of ‘The Game,’ it is time to give Harbaugh his respect. Not only has he beaten Ohio State two years in a row, but he’s also done it two different ways. Last season was a beatdown where Michigan bullied Ohio State on both lines of scrimmage with a punishing run game and an elite defensive line. This season, Michigan tried to maintain that identity, but with star running back Blake Corum injured, they instead turned into a big-play offense, torching Ohio State for five touchdowns on plays over 40 yards — three of which were 75 yards or longer. Harbaugh showed an ability to adapt and outcoach Ryan Day en route to his second victory over his rival.
It is safe to say that former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had Harbaugh’s number. Meyer was 7-0 against Michigan and 4-0 against Harbaugh. After the past two seasons, Harbaugh is 2-1 against Ryan Day, and I would say that he has Days’ number and is in his head. Ohio State never had questions about their toughness under Meyer, but with Day at the helm they have been bullied by multiple programs, and Harbaugh has built a machine that will out-tough Ohio State since it can’t out-talent them.
I don’t know about you, but I am not confident that Day and the Buckeyes will go into Ann Arbor next season and beat the Wolverines in the Big House. Michigan is officially the class of the Big Ten until proven otherwise. Ryan Day’s saving grace may just be that Harbaugh has been at Michigan for eight seasons — four more than any other stop in his career — and the NFL with undoubtedly come calling. Look no further than the Indianapolis Colts, another team in crisis where hiring a former player to save them may be attractive.
That is all hearsay, so unless Jim Harbaugh hangs up his collegiate whistle and heads to the NFL, the Wolverines own the Big Ten until further notice.