Jim Harbaugh has yet to beat Ohio State as Michigan’s head coach the past five seasons and made clear that is the top priority.
Harbaugh appeared Wednesday afternoon on NBCSN’s “Lunch Talk Live” hosted by Mike Tirico. They discussed a number of topics, including Harbaugh taking his family on a recent RV trip — he drove — the uncertainty of the upcoming season, and the open letter he recently released suggesting, among other things, that football players should be allowed to declare for the NFL Draft at any point.
Tirico also asked about the state of the Michigan football program, and Harbaugh brought up archrival Ohio State.
“Having a great time,” Harbaugh said on the show. “It’s been a joy to coach our guys. We’re a high-drive team. We’re driving toward success, we want to put it over the top. We've just been kinda on that outside of the playoffs, haven’t gotten in and want to push that over the top. That’s our mission.”
The stumbling block has been archrival Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won eight straight in the rivalry and 15 of the last 16 meetings. Michigan last beat Ohio State in 2011, 40-34, at Michigan Stadium.
Ohio State stood in the way of potential playoff berths twice during Harbaugh’s tenure. In 2016, Michigan’s playoff momentum was stalled after a 30-27 double-overtime loss in Columbus that ended in controversy over a critical fourth-down call. The Buckeyes won on the next play. Michigan finished 10-2 that regular season, and Ohio State 11-1.
The Wolverines had won 10 straight entering the game at Ohio Stadium in 2018. A win would have given Michigan a spot in the Big Ten championship and kept the Wolverines alive in the national playoff conversation. Ohio State won, 62-39, and again finished the regular season 11-1, while Michigan, with a season-opening loss at Notre Dame, finished 10-2.
“We got to beat Ohio State,” Harbaugh said. “Nothing makes us angrier than that, or me, but that’s what we’re working toward every day. We’ve beaten everybody else, but we haven’t beat them. That’s what we have to do, beat them, win a championship, get ourselves in the playoff, win a national championship.”