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Only beating Ohio State matters for Harbaugh

Leslie Monteiro

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Jim Harbaugh has to be loving life as Michigan Wolverines football head coach. It took years for this football program to be relevant. It took awhile for this program to be up and running. Finally after three years of coaching this once proud program, Michigan is in a position to contend for a national championship in his view.

The Wolverines outscored the Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans and Penn State Nittany Lions 101-27 in their last three games. This was dubbed as “The Revenge Tour” after those three teams beat up on them last season.

The Wolverines have a breather after dominating the hapless Rutgers Scarlet Knights 42-7 on Saturday afternoon at High Point.com Stadium, and they will get another one against the Indiana Hoosiers in their home season finale this Sunday. And then, they will face off their nemesis in the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have won six in a row against their alleged rival.

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Yes, Michigan’s football season comes down to “The Game”. For their season to be successful, only beating the Buckeyes will do. If they want to play in the college football playoffs, beating the Buckeyes have to be a must. For Harbaugh to show he truly has Michigan on the right path to the national championship, they finally have to end their losing streak to their hated Big Ten rivals. Their season has always been predicated to whether or not they can beat Ohio State.

No ifs, ands or buts. Harbaugh was hired specifically to dethrone Urban Meyer and his
powerful Buckeyes program once in for all. If he goes 0-4 against Meyer and his program, what Michigan did in their revenge tour this season will be rendered meaningless, and rightfully so.

For all the praise Michigan received for beating Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State, there’s a caveat to this: Those three Big Ten teams are not having good years by their standards. So that’s why beating Ohio State is important to validate Michigan’s season.
Michigan shouldn’t apologize for winning. Had they lost to those teams, then there would be questions whether or not the program will ever be on track. Now, Michigan has a chance to show the nation that the days of being a patsy are indeed over if they beat Ohio State. That’s why there’s so much on the line for Harbaugh and Michigan in this game.

Lose to Ohio State and it’s going to be hard for Harbaugh and Michigan to sell things are changing. It will be Same Ol’ Michigan.

If Michigan can’t beat a vulnerable Ohio State team, when will they? This is a great opportunity to finally end Meyer’s winning streak against them. Michigan knows it, too. Yes, this game will be at Ohio Stadium, but no matter. Michigan is a team that should find a way to beat them with Shea Patterson playing his best football as Michigan quarterback and Michigan’s defense being one of the stingiest defenses in the nation.The pressure is all on Michigan and Harbaugh to get it done. Ohio State knows how to beat them, so it’s up to Michigan to respond and find a way. Michigan will be hyped and be the favorite for “The Game”. The spotlight is on them. Ohio State has been there, done that, so this becomes easy for them. Can Michigan handle all of this?

Michigan players and Harbaugh know it’s not just another game, so they won’t bother to say it when looking at the ramifications of this game.They understand what this game means, so they won’t be in denial. There’s no point to it.

This is a challenge Michigan is ready to relish. Yes, Ohio State will not be easy with the talent they have on offense and defense. If Michigan beats them, they earned it. No questions asked.

This is Harbaugh’s best team by far. This is his players now. He finally found his quarterback that he can win with, and he has a defense that can create turnovers and be the ball hawkers it can be. His defense has been good for the last few years, and now his offense has caught up to his defense. He has his team built in the image of Ohio State, which is being fast, tough and strong in the trenches.

There can be no more excuses about the program that his predecessor Brady Hoke left behind.

Michigan can run the score all it wants against Rutgers and Indiana to show that this time is
going to be different against Ohio State.

In the end, it will come down to what happens in Columbus after Black Friday.

Only the result matters and nothing else.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.