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Harbaugh setback vs. Minnesota preceded OSU guarantee

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh played for the Wolverines from 1983-86.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh certainly understands what it means to lose the Little Brown Jug, the trophy awarded the winner of the Michigan-Minnesota game.

The 15th-ranked Wolverines (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) were off last weekend and preparing to play at Minnesota (4-3, 1-2) at TCF Bank Stadium Saturday night. The teams won't meet again until 2017 in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines were ranked No. 2 in 1986, Harbaugh was a co-captain and quarterback, and they had not lost in 15 straight games.

Minnesota was a huge underdog, but with two minutes left at Michigan Stadium and the teams tied, 17-17, Gophers quarterback Rickey Foggie scrambled to put Chip Lohmiller in position to kick the winning 30-yard field goal. Foggie had thrown and run for a score in the game and Lohmiller also had made a 25-yard field goal. It was the first time since 1977 the Gophers won the Little Brown Jug.

Michigan won the Jug in 1987 and didn't lose it again until 2005.

"There were other low points in my college career, but that was one of them," Harbaugh said Tuesday on the Big Ten conference call. "Our team was able to bounce back the next week. Very proud of that.

"That was so long ago. How long ago was that? Darn near 30 years, 29 years ago. Rickey Foggie played a heck of a game, Chip Lohmiller was the kicker ... I've got memories of it."

The loss on Nov. 15, 1986 set up one of the more memorable moments in recent Michigan history. The following Monday, Harbaugh was asked how the team would recover from the loss as it readied for arch-rival Ohio State.

"I'll guarantee you we'll beat Ohio State and be in Pasadena," Harbaugh told reporters.

Michigan defeated Ohio State, 26-24, in Columbus and went on to the Rose Bowl.

MICHIGAN 1986 SEASON

At Notre Dame, W 24-23

Oregon State, W 31-12

Florida State, W 20-18

Wisconsin, W 34-17

Michigan State, W 27-6

Iowa, W 20-17

At Indiana, W 38-14

Illinois, W 69-13

At Purdue, W 31-7

Minnesota, L 20-17

At Ohio State, W 26-24

At Hawaii, W 27-10

Arizona State (Rose Bowl), L 22-15

No more 'ifs': Wolverines finally dispatch bad vibes

Kill faces another Harbaugh

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill was coaching at Southern Illinois when he played against Jack Harbaugh's Western Kentucky teams in 2001 and 2002. Harbaugh won both of those meetings and went on to win the 2002 I-AA national title.

Jim Harbaugh shared in July at the Big Ten Kickoff his father's feelings about Kill and the type of coach he is, and did so again on the Big Ten call Tuesday.

"You see it in all phases, speaking from my perspective, in his football team," Harbaugh said, when asked why he respects Kill. "They play the game like the game's supposed to be played. Everything my dad's always talked about – it's great, honest, fair competition when you play a Jerry Kill-coached football team. I see it the way they cover kicks, the way they execute their schemes and the effort they play with.

"My dad gets such joy with the competition he had with Coach Kill. He said one year they were trying to out-power each other. They must have run combined over 50 power plays. It was a game within the game to see who could run power most. It's heart-warming. The Harbaugh family has a deep, abiding respect for Coach Kill and his abilities."

Jim Harbaugh: "We've written the prologue to this 2015 season. If it's going to be a great season then it's got to have one heck of a conclusion."

Moving on

As Harbaugh described Monday during his weekly news conference and later on his radio show, he reiterated how impressed he has been with his players and how they rebounded from the Michigan State loss heading into their off-week.

The Wolverines had a three-hour practice last Tuesday that resembled a preseason camp practice, and on Wednesday practiced four hours, as they did during the spring.

"I was really impressed by our team, really inspired actually," Harbaugh said. "Came back Sunday and were mentally sharp and physically didn't show any signs of rust. Practiced (Monday) and had a real good practice again. Today's objective is to make it the best practice of the year."

Peppers likely to play more offense; Johnson good to go

How will Michigan finish?

Harbaugh takes exception to the use of the word "bye" to describe a week without a game. Instead, he calls it an "opportunity week" or "improvement week."

He said, when asked about the challenges of keeping the players focused after an off-weekend, that it ultimately comes down to the direction the players want to go.

"For our football team, we've written the prologue to this 2015 season," he said Tuesday. "Roles have been introduced, there's been success, there's been disappointment. If it's going to be a great season then it's got to have one heck of a conclusion.

"It comes down to what the intentions of everybody on the team are. If their intentions are to have one heck of a conclusion here, then they're going to be very focused."