If there's one thing Michigan fans are painfully aware of at this point, it's that Ohio State has dominated the Wolverines for the better part of the last two decades. In fact, the 2021 season will officially mark 10 years since Michigan's last win against the Buckeyes (2011), including the two worst losses in rivalry history (2018, 2019). The Wolverines are also currently in the midst of the rivalries longest losing streak since 1918, dating back to the very beginning of the rivalry when Ohio State went 0-13-2 from 1897-1918.
While Michigan's current losing streak to the Buckeyes isn't entirely Jim Harbaugh's fault, the man entering his seventh season as head coach of the Wolverines owns a lions share of the historic losing streak - one that is still in progress. Five of the last eight losses to Ohio State have occurred on Harbaugh's watch, making him the only head coach in Michigan football history to lose his first five games against the Buckeyes. What's worse, Harbaugh is currently one of just three Michigan head coaches to be winless against Ohio State - joining Langdon "Biff" Lea, 0-0-1 (1900) and Rich Rodriguez, 0-3 (2008-2010).
Here's a look at how Michigan coaches have fared against the Buckeyes through their first five seasons as head coach:
- Fielding H. Yost, 1901-1905: 5-0
- George Little, 1924: 1-0
- Elton E. Weiman, 1927-1928: 1-1
- Harry Kipke, 1929-1933: 3-2
- Fritz Crisler, 1938-1942: 3-1-1
- Bennie Oosterbaan, 1948-1952: 3-1-1
- Bump Elliott, 1959-1963: 1-4
- Bo Schembechler, 1969-1973: 2-2-1
- Gary Moeller, 1990-1994: 3-1-1
- Lloyd Carr, 1995-1999: 4-1
- Rich Rodriguez, 2008-2010: 0-3
- Brady Hoke, 2011-2014: 1-3
- Jim Harbaugh, 2015-present: 0-5
Outside of a golden opportunity in 2016 that would have sent Michigan to Indy and quite possibly the College Football Playoff, the Buckeyes have made a habit of beating Michigan soundly during the Harbaugh era - averaging a 19-point margin of victory over the last five meetings.
Given the fact that Harbaugh was expected to turn the tide in the rivalry when he accepted the position with Michigan back in 2015, the results have been disappointing to say the least. With a restructured contract and the window of opportunity closing fast, the 2021 season could very well be Jim Harbaugh's last shot to correct course and to salvage his coaching legacy at the University of Michigan.
Speaking at Big Ten Media Days, a slimmed-down Harbaugh seemed to understand - and even embrace - the tremendous challenge before him entering year seven.
"I'm as enthusiastic and as excited as I ever am, always am - even more," said Harbaugh. “To have it, to win the championship, to beat Ohio (State). (To win) our rivalry with Michigan State. Everybody.
“That’s what we’re trying to do. And we’re going to do it — or die trying.”