It might have been close for awhile, but it never felt that way.

OK, maybe when Michigan took a 6-0 lead Saturday at the Big House, but then it missed the extra point to stomp on the germinating seed of an upset of No. 1 Ohio State.

Given the Buckeyes' dominance throughout the season in advancing to 11-0, it felt like the Wolverines would need every point they could get.

But given the perspective of the previous seven years, we probably should have known they'd need a lot more than a PAT to bridge the canyon separating them from OSU.

That has to be the most humbling reality for Michigan in the aftermath of its 56-27 loss to the Buckeyes.

Urban Meyer retired and a first-time head coach in Ryan Day took over.

Ohio State lost quarterback Dwayne Haskins, running back Mike Weber, three receivers and four starters from the offensive line to the NFL Draft.

Surely, without them, and getting the Buckeyes at home this time around, Michigan could come much closer than the 62-39 embarrassment it suffered last season in Columbus.

But instead, even without Haskins' six touchdown passes, Weber's 96 rushing yards and one score, without the trio of receivers who caught three of Haskins TDs, and without 80% of the beef that made it all possible, Ohio State went out and beat Michigan by a bigger margin this time around.

That makes Jim Harbaugh, the man who was going to stop the OSU's dominance that began in 2001, 0-for-5 in the series since his hiring for the 2015 season.

No previous Michigan coach has ever been 0-5 against the Buckeyes.

Maybe in maize-and-blue circles, 56-27 feels like progress from 62-39, but it isn't.

The gap is widening, not closing.

This year, Michigan brought back quarterback Shea Patterson and his entire receiving corp.

Ohio State brought in a transfer from Georgia in Justin Fields, then lost both the scholarship quarterbacks it had positioned to take over for Haskins and thus had no margin for error at the most important position on the field.

None of it mattered.

Now, Harbaugh and the Wolverines can look forward to 2020, playing in Columbus, where Fields will be back, since he's a true sophomore and has to return.

So will receiver Chris Olave, who entering the 2018 Michigan game hadn't caught a touchdown pass.

He caught two that day and blocked a punt to set up another TD.

Saturday, he caught two of Fields' four scoring throws to build himself quite the two-year resume in the rivalry Ohio State prizes so much it works on the Wolverines to the point of obsession.

It's not that Harbaugh doesn't get this rivalry, like many Ohio State fans accused John Cooper of during his 2-10-1 struggles against the Wolverines from 1988-2000.

Harbaugh's dad, Jack, coached with Bo Schembechler.

Harbaugh grew up around Bo and Woody Hayes' legendary Ten-Year War.

He grew up to play quarterback for Schembechler and claimed a piece of this rivarly's lore for himself when he guaranteed a win in Columbus in 1985 and then delivered on his hubris.

He could have grabbed onto that bit of pleasant history this week when asked what he cherishes most about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, but he didn't.

"I love the competition," Harbaugh said.

Next year, he'll need a different answer, because nothing has been and nothing promises to be competitive about this rivalry any more.

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I have it my best shot. YOu know. What happened, happened.

We knew how they were scheming us. We went out there in the second half and made the adjustments we needed to make.