What’s Next for Michigan Football

Jack Cote, Sports Editor

Five years, five losses. Michigan has failed to beat rival Ohio State, in the biggest game in the college football year, since 2011. After hiring Jim Harbaugh, former Michigan quarterback, as well as head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford University, he has went 0-5 in matchups against Ohio State. 

A heartbreaking, yet humiliating loss to Ohio State last year, set alarm across the Michigan fanbase. In some eyes, a Wolverine season isn’t a success unless defeating the Buckeyes. Heading into the 2019 college football season, Michigan football was ready to make its comeback return to winning ways in Ann Arbor. 

Quarterback, Shea Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss, lead his Wolverines to a 10-3 season last year, being one win away from becoming contenders for the college football playoffs. The game they needed to win, was Ohio State, and Michigan was blown out of Columbus, losing 62-39. Ever since this blowout loss to Ohio State, Michigan has wanted revenge and a chance at a big ten championship. 

During the 2019 season, filled with ups and downs, Jim Harbaugh tried to prove to the college football world that he could lead the Wolverines to success. Key wins against Iowa and Notre Dame during the season, showed signs of the Michigan football team that everyone envisioned. Crucial losses to Wisconsin and Penn State knocked the Wolverines out of playoff contention. But, at the end of the day, beating Ohio State was the main goal for the program. 

Offensive struggles early in the season to teams like Army, Wisconsin and Iowa, disturbed the fans in Ann Arbor. An immediate reaction to poor play out of the offense, as well as the team’s confidence, brought in the discussion on whether or not Jim Harbaugh should remain as head coach after the conclusion of this season. All eyes shifted to November 30th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, at 12pm. 

Heading into the game, Michigan was 9-2, and a win would rank them just shy of the top 4. Forget the rankings, a win would bring joy back to Ann Arbor, after having to deal with years of losing to the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, were 11-0 heading into the rivalry game, trying to win out to secure a playoff spot. 

Even with a sliver of hope heading into the game for Michigan, labeling the marquee matchup a must win, there was never a chance of victory for the Wolverines. A first drive touchdown by Giles Jackson, running for 22 yards, sparked life on the Michigan sideline. A quick answer by Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins gave the Buckeyes a 7-6 lead. 

After the first quarter, the score was 14-13 Ohio State, but there was no sign of stopping J.K. Dobbins, the 20 year old NFL prospect. Dobbins went on to run for 4 touchdowns, carrying the ball 31 times for 211 yards on the ground, as well as 49 receiving yards. Ohio State broke open the first quarter 1 point deficit to 12 by halftime. 

Justin Fields, Ohio State quarterback, had a quiet 302 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. A Heisman hopeful lead the Buckeyes to a blowout win, 56-27. 

In order for Michigan to win this football game, they had to slow the run game down, not commit turnovers and penalties, and basically play a perfect game. That all had to come through quarterback, Shea Patterson. An early fumble in the redzone for Patterson started the careless plays out of the Wolverines. Everything Michigan had to do to win this game, they did the opposite. 

A disappointing performance all around for the Michigan football team, the program is running out of reasons why they can’t at least compete with the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

One question asked by many across the world of sports, sparked after last years loss to the buckeyes, carrying on to this years disappointing 9-3 record… Should Jim Harbaugh be fired? The answer is yes, and here is why. 

In 5 years as the head coach for the Wolverines, Harbaugh has went 10-3 three times, and possibly a fourth time, depending on the outcome of Michigan’s bowl game. Now you might be thinking, 10-3 is a pretty solid record, but is it for a program like Michigan?

The people who think that Jim Harbaugh has done a good job in his 5 years as Michigan head coach are insane. He is 2-11 in games against top 10 ranked opponents, 0-5 against Ohio State, hasn’t won a big ten championship, and has yet to make the college football playoff. This is Michigan football. Arguably a top 3 program all time. Those numbers are unacceptable for a program that is as well known as they are, and has the expectation of winning a national championship every single year. 

Don’t forget, Jim Harbaugh has yet to bring in a stud quarterback. Shea Patterson can throw the football, but when it comes down to being the leading charge of a program like Michigan, Shea Patterson has no business being the starting quarterback in maize and blue. 

The only hesitation in firing Jim Harbaugh would be, who is the replacement. Harbaugh has proven over his coaching career, that he can win football games. He nearly captured a Lombardi Trophy as the 49ers head coach back in 2013.

Michigan’s fanbase is exploding, and they need to beat Ohio State next year. There is no rebuild for a program as popular as Michigan. When the season is all said and done, the odds of Jim Harbaugh being fired are slim to none, but a change in the programs motivation, hunger, and urge to win must occur. 

A season with an Ohio State loss is a failure, and unless significant changes are made this offseason, the Wolverines will continue to be embarrassed in the rivalry game against the Buckeyes.