As bad as Michigan’s 35-14 loss to Wisconsin looks in the aftermath, it was actually worse than the final score indicates. Wisconsin led 35-0 until late in the third quarter. The Badgers out-rushed Michigan 359-40. Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson threw 18 incompletions in 32 attempts and was out-rated by his Badger counterpart Jack Coan by more than 30 points.
That performance, combined with Jim Harbaugh’s 1-9 record against top-10 opponents, has people asking if Michigan could do the unthinkable if this season doesn’t turn around.
However, FOX analyst Joel Klatt doesn’t see Michigan firing Harbaugh after this season — he envisions a scenario of Harbaugh walking away.
Klatt served as the color analyst for Michigan’s overtime escape over Army, Saturday’s mashing in Madison, as well as the Wolverines’ 62-39 loss to Ohio State last season.
“Last year against Ohio State didn’t even feel quite like it felt Saturday,” Klatt told KTCK-AM on Wednesday. “It still felt like, ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’ type of deal (against Ohio State) but this was different. They were completely dominated in the trenches. Wisconsin ran the ball for well over 300 yards. In fact, they ran it for 350 yards, and all Michigan could muster was about 40 yards on the ground. They out-gained them on the ground by over 300 yards — Michigan, under Jim Harbaugh.
“I thought this would work, but when you all of a sudden hit the panic button and you try to change your identity and your philosophy that has been successful over several different stops at several different levels of football, it’s either going to be all or nothing. And what we’re seeing is the nothing side of this. This was very much chips all in at the middle of the table and that fifth card comes down and he went bust. Right now it has been a failure of a switch for their offensive philosophy, and their defense was not even that physical. They lost that game on the defensive side as well. It was just an all around total beatdown.
“I’m not going to be surprised if he walks away at the end of this season,” Klatt continued. “He just doesn’t have the same sense of urgency, that same Jim Harbaugh kind of stinger, if you will, that he did in previous years.”
There’s a lot of football still to be played this season, and plenty of opportunity for Michigan to reclaim its 2019 campaign. Five games against ranked teams still await:
— vs. No. 14 Iowa, Oct. 5
— at No. 12 Penn State, Oct. 19
— vs. No. 10 Notre Dame, Oct. 26
— vs. No. 25 Michigan State, Nov. 16
— vs. No. 5 Ohio State, Nov. 30
FOX has already claimed the Ohio State-Michigan game, and the A team of Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt will be in the Big House to call it. If the maize and blue go 5-for-5 in those games against ranked teams, Klatt will be talking about Michigan’s resurrected season, how Harbaugh finally led his alma mater over the hump and (probably) a coming rematch with Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship with a College Football Playoff trip on the line. All of that is still very much on the table, no matter what Paul Finebaum might be saying.
But if Michigan performs in those games like it did in Madison last Saturday, they’ll go 0-for-5 in those games, and then Klatt could very well be on the call for Jim Harbaugh’s final game at Michigan — perhaps by the university’s choice, or maybe by Harbaugh himself.