By: Will Burchfield
It’s been a disappointing year for Michigan, but Jim Harbaugh believes the Wolverines have a shot at redemption on Saturday.
Asked if a victory over Ohio State would salvage his team’s season and be a boon for the program, Harbaugh told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket, “I think it would.”
“I think of how the greats at Michigan would think about the season. The Bradys, the Woodsons, the Howards, the Biakabutukas, the Grahams, the Woodleys, on and on. I think about how the All-Americans would think of it, how anybody that played at Michigan would think of it and view it. They would think, ‘Great season.’ You put an exclamation. They’d be proud of the team, absolutely,” Harbaugh said.
Michigan (8-3) enters Saturday’s game unranked, while No. 8 Ohio State (9-2) is still vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes have dominated the rivalry of late, winning 12 of the past 13 years. Harbaugh is 0-2 since taking over as head coach in 2015.
“These young men that are playing in it, you want them to have their experience in it…to have them capture the joy, the excitement, the intensity,” Harbaugh said. “I want them to have a winning experience. That is very important. I want that for our guys, I want that for our seniors, that they go out with their heads held high and have an experience that is a winning one.”
Several Michigan players have admitted that last year’s loss still gnaws at them. The Wolverines surrendered a 10-point second-half lead and then lost in double overtime following a controversial fourth-down spot that kept the Buckeyes’ winning drive alive.
“It’s part of The Game, as they say. Part of football and part of the experience. It’s part of the players’ experience. People ask, ‘Do the players know the importance of this game? Do they know what it’s all about?’ And people ask me, ‘Do you convince them of that?’ You do. You try, you try,” Harbaugh said.
He added there there are “levels” to the rivalry, from growing up and watching it as a fan to competing in it as a player.
“It has great importance, and the players that are playing this game want to be successful. I want them to be successful. We’ve lost this game two years in a row. There’s nothing on the mind right now more important than preparing and putting our players in a position to have that winning experience — locally or globally,” Harbaugh said with a laugh.
It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for Michigan in the wake of Brandon Peters’ concussion versus Wisconsin. Harbaugh told reporters on Monday that Peters had made “great strides” in his recovery but didn’t have an update to offer on Wednesday.
“We’ll prepare multiple players for the game,” Harbaugh said.
Asked what it’s like to be around the team in advance of the Ohio State game, Harbaugh said, “Really exciting, intense, super important. All those things wrapped into one game, one week.”