Will Changes Help Michigan Finally Beat Ohio State – CBS Detroit
Jim Harbaugh shook up his coaching staff and got in shape like he was still playing quarterback after his alma mater opportunity was extended for at least one more season last winter.
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Michigan sporting director Warde Manuel, a former Harbaugh teammate under the late Bo Schembechler, signed Harbaugh to a new contract that cut his guaranteed pay on a contract that is essentially one year on year.
Harbaugh responded shortly after by installing new defensive coordinator Mike Maconald to replace Don Brown. He recruited a pair of young and dynamic ex-wolverines, Mike Hart and Ron Bellamy, to join the re-designed coaching staff. He even changed the name of the team’s 9-on-7 drill at the start of Spring Practice at Beat Ohio to empower his players while sharpening their focus on Buckeyes’ rivals.
So far it seemed to be working with the Wolverines (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) ranked sixth in the AP Top 25 and College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State ranks # 2 on the AP poll and fourth on the CFP.
Harbaugh is desperately hoping, perhaps more than anyone, that the many changes he’s made will help Michigan finally beat Ohio State at the Big House on Saturday. He appears to have a chance at winning the rivalry for the first time as a coach, but the Buckeyes (10-1, 8-0) are preferred to win more than one touchdown, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The range is relatively fair in a suddenly one-sided streak in which Ohio State won a school record eight games in a row and 15 of 16 games in Hype and Short on Major Wins.
“Both teams have a lot at stake,” said Harbaugh on Monday. “In that sense, it’s a real playoff. In the world of college football playoffs, this is the start of the playoffs.
“The team that wins will advance. The team that doesn’t, won’t. That’s it, and it’s also the big game, The Game, the rivalry. “
The winners will win the Big Ten East Division, secure a spot in the conference championship game, and have a solid chance at the college football playoff.
Even if the Buckeyes win by multiple touchdowns, Harbaugh will most likely keep his job. However, one more setback would haunt him for many months, adding to further doubts that he could ever turn the most successful college football program back to a title contender in today’s game.
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Last summer at Big Ten Media Days, he set his public sights on winning the conference championship – the school’s first since 2004 – and beating rivals Ohio State and Michigan State.
“We’ll do it or we’ll die trying,” Harbaugh said in July.
Despite a 37-33 loss to the then No. 8 Spartans last month, putting Harbaugh down to 3-4 in the state rivalry, the Wolverines are just one win away from advancing to the Big Ten championship game for the first time . Harbaugh considered his do-or-die comments for a moment.
“It comes to life,” he said. “It’s here. It happens.”
The game missed last season for the first time in 102 years, a victim of a COVID-19 outbreak on Michigan’s program that ended its season prematurely with an embarrassing 2-4 record.
Some giggled that the Wolverines were thrilled to have saved a trip to Ohio after coach Ryan Day reportedly told his players that they would be “100 hooked on them” at the Horseshoe.
That bothered Michigan coaches and players, who all insisted they wanted to play the Buckeyes last year – and every season.
And while Harbaugh has his share of critics, it seems his players have behind him.
“We have a coach who is ready to do anything for us,” said wide receiver Mike Sainristil. “He will go to the end of the world to make sure we are all in the right position. He’s going to risk everything for us and Manager Harbaugh is the guy you really want to play for. He’s a great coach, a great person, and he’s proven that all year.
“I wouldn’t want to compete in this field with a coach other than him on Saturday.”
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