Ranking Jim Harbaugh's Five Glorious Losses to Ohio State

By Kevin Harrish on November 25, 2021 at 6:05 pm
Jim Harbaugh

When Jim Harbaugh arrived at Michigan ahead of the 2015 season, folks around the nation were predicting a new 10 Year War between the Michigan Man and Urban Meyer.

But as you know, that's not how it turned out.

Instead, Meyer went a cool 4-0 against Harbaugh before passing the sticks to Ryan Day, who blasted the Khaki King 56-27 in their lone meeting in 2019. In fact, the most success Harbaugh has had in this game since taking over at Michigan was in 2020, when he simply didn't have the chance to lose.

No coach in the history of Michigan football has been worse against the Buckeyes than Harbaugh, leaving us with a glorious highlight reel of his failures.

As we await the Buckeyes handing Harbaugh his sixth-straight loss in the series, here are his first five losses, ranked in order of enjoyment based on the results from an Eleven Warriors poll.

5) 2017 – #5 Ohio State 31, Michigan 20

You know the past five games have been good when a comeback win led by a backup quarterback is at the bottom of the list.

Renown Wolverine Slayer J.T. Barrett had to leave the game just before halftime after reaggravating a knee injury sustained pregame, but that wasn't a problem because Ohio State had a future Heisman Trophy finalist on the bench.

In his first meaningful college snaps, Dwayne Haskins entered the game and led the Buckeyes to a 31-20 comeback victory on road victory over Michigan, completing more than 85 percent of his passes for 97 yards.

4) 2015 – #8 Ohio State 42, #10 Michigan 13

In 2015, the Buckeyes gave Jim Harbaugh a warm welcome to coaching in the rivalry.

Quite simply, Ohio State smacked the hell out of Michigan. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 7.1 yards per carry, J.T. Barrett rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 7.8 yards per carry, and Joey Bosa even got an interception (and stiff-armed Wilton Speight into the turf on the return).

It was extremely fun, but a little bittersweet after the debacle against Michigan State the week before.

3) 2019 – #1 Ohio State 56, #13 Michigan 27

Ohio State entered this game as a 9-point road favorite with the decisive advantage on offense, defense and special teams. And the game played out as you'd expect.

Justin Fields put up a casual 302 yards and four touchdowns through the air while J.K. Dobbins gashed the Wolverines for 211 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to lead Ohio State to a lopsided 56-27 win – Ryan Day's first as a head coach in the rivalry.

Frankly, the Buckeyes did what they were expected to do, but that doesn't make a lopsided win over Michigan in Ann Arbor any less sweet.

2) 2016 – #2 Ohio State 30, #3 Michigan 27 (Double Overtime)

This one doesn't need much explanation.

Both teams came into this showdown with elite defenses and College Football Playoff aspirations, and it led to without doubt the hardest-fought game of the Jim Harbaugh era.

Ohio State's offense struggled to move the ball at times, but the defense delivered. Both Buckeye touchdowns in regulation were set up by turnovers as Malik Hooker had a pick-six just before the half and Jerome Baker intercepted a pass deep in Michigan territory.

Ultimately, Ohio State pulled out the win in double overtime thanks to an extremely good and correct spot on a fourth-down run and the late-game dagger from Curtis Samuel.

1) 2018 – #10 Ohio State 62, #4 Michigan 39

The Buckeyes don't get the chance very often these days, but there's nothing quite like beating Michigan as an underdog.

Ohio State entered this game as a 4.5-point underdog against a higher-ranked Wolverine team that was guaranteeing a victory, wearing their "Revenge Tour" shirts during warmups and cracking Buckeyes before the game.

And the Buckeyes blasted them, putting up 62 points – the most they've ever scored in the rivalry – and ending Michigan's hopes of a Big Ten championship and a College Football Playoff bid.

It doesn't get any sweeter than that.

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