Wisconsin 35, Michigan 14

Wisconsin 35, Michigan 14 Ace September 21st, 2019 at 3:50 PM
[Patrick Barron]

That felt like a game of a bygone era, and not the one Jim Harbaugh constantly evokes. Michigan lost to Wisconsin in a start-to-finish debacle that'll shake even the most steadfast optimist's confidence in the program, at the very least until they can play on a big stage without getting stunted on.

Nothing went right. For the third straight game, Michigan lost a fumble on their opening drive, this time Ben Mason deep in Badger territory. There was no running game. Dylan McCaffrey replaced an ineffective Shea Patterson at quarterback until getting knocked out of the game by a dirty hit to the head. Wisconsin back Jonathan Taylor hit the century mark before the first quarter ended. Their quarterback, Jack Coan, completed 13 of his 16 pass attempts.

The rumored walking wounded, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Zach Charbonnet, suited up but made little impact until well into garbage time. Even on the shutout-breaking touchdown, Sean McKeon appeared to hurt his knee after landing in the end zone. A desperation Wolverine touchdown was overturned just before yet another lost fumble.

This was coming off a bye week.

Okay, I slightly overstated things. The onside kick was lovely, even if it failed to provide the final score with an unearned veneer of respectability. Patterson's pitch to Jon Runyan Jr. provided a much-needed moment of levity. The late eff-it bombs to Nico Collins and Tarik Black provided a blueprint for what this offense should have been doing all along, for the love of all things sacred and holy.


203 yards on 23 carries. [Bryan Fuller]

A disaster of this magnitude brings with it major questions, the most pressing of which is: where is the offense we were promised in the offseason? And there are so many others. How do we distribute the blame for the offense's performance? When (if?) both quarterbacks are healthy, who starts? What the hell happened to the offensive line? What defensive alignment can be effective with this set of personnel? What the hell happened to the those guys, too?

When does this stop? If it doesn't, when do we ask The Big Question that it's still too soon to ask no matter what's said on sports talk radio this week?

I certainly don't have the answers. Jim Harbaugh, Josh Gattis, and Don Brown are going to need to come up with some.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]


September 21st, 2019 at 3:57 PM ^

That pretty much covers it. Maybe the only other point to add would be that the Army game makes it harder to see this as a fluke.

Joined: 02/15/2016

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:08 PM ^

That is the problem, they do not know who they are and Patterson apparently is not the leader that everyone thought he was.  It is times like this where the offense looks to their leaders and if that leader is absent then there are problems.  On top of that it looks like the OL has regressed this year, Ruiz is getting beat way to many times for someone who was talked about as an early entry for the NFL.  Now if it comes out that these guys that are getting NFL hype are not performing, bench their asses.

That should wake them up.


Joined: 05/09/2015

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:07 PM ^

Yeah, they have the personnel to have the exact identity they wanted.  But they hired the wrong coach to do it.  Total whiff.  Not surprising either.  35-year-old WR coach that rode other guys coattails.  Why would we think that's a good idea? It could have worked out, but had a very good chance of not working out so it's a totally unnecessary risk, given the amount of money we have to throw at people.

I don't get why it's so hard.  Hire a guy that is in charge of an offense (or an entire team but who was recently in charge of an offense), punching above his weight/talent class and putting up video game like numbers at a lower level.  There are guys out there that are far lower risk.

Hit the Don Brown hire.  Missed on this one.

Joined: 01/05/2010

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September 21st, 2019 at 3:57 PM ^

I have defended him at every turn, but this is the kind of game that tips the scales the wrong way.  Probably the beginning of the end for JH, even if it takes 2 years to get there.  

Joined: 11/02/2009

MGoPoints: 1089


September 21st, 2019 at 4:17 PM ^

If things go bad from here (and it certainly feels like it's pointing that way) this week's terrible performance with cut-ins from sad Charles and giddy Urban will feel like the tipping point. 

Could this be rock bottom they crawl out of? Sure, maybe, but I'm not confident in that at all. 

Joined: 04/03/2016

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September 21st, 2019 at 3:58 PM ^

I can imagine Michigan cleaning up the fumbles, penalties, and passing miscues as the season goes on. But the OL and DL problems seem to be deeper than mere sloppiness. And Patterson is at best a good QB but not the type to pull a team up to a higher level. 

I'll defend the defense a little bit here: it's very hard not to be demoralized when the offense is giving you so little. The first half time of possession was roughly 24:6. That's partly on the defense, but that's not much help from the offense!

Joined: 12/03/2008

MGoPoints: 36410


September 21st, 2019 at 4:15 PM ^

How long are we going to flog the past for more than it's worth? 

His HS and Ole Miss stats aren't worth the pixels they're posted with, when his performance on the field tells a different story. 

It's like the pre-game WINNINGEST PROGRAM IN HISTORY hype reel. That's great. But when's the last time they played like it? 

Joined: 09/21/2019

MGoPoints: 2


September 21st, 2019 at 3:58 PM ^

I did not post much during the game and have enough time to gather myself before I contribute....


Fire Jim Harbaugh.  Those kids are not prepared and neither he nor the players look to realize it.   There is no overstating how bad that was today.  That is a multi-year fix.  That is a team several years away from being competitive.  

I understand that they are getting a good experience at Michigan.  He is not paid over 8 million dollars for a “good experience.” (If they are even getting that from him).  I think there should be some real questions about his job.  Right now questions.

Joined: 09/21/2009

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:00 PM ^

It looked to me like Harbaugh has lost the team, that his messages are no longer working. This wasn't a scheme issue, it was a heart and execution and will issue.

EDIT: I hate to quote Meyer, but he and Woodson said the same thing after the game: "this wasn't about the spread or the scheme, it was about toughness and effort."

Joined: 07/07/2008

MGoPoints: 13263


September 21st, 2019 at 4:00 PM ^

Honestly go full Sparty and devote a little bit of practice time each week to OSU. No matter what else happens this year we need that game. Were we to beat OSU who looks like a juggernaut it could completely change the course of this program.

Joined: 11/27/2010

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:01 PM ^

You're lying to yourself if you think Harbaugh or Brown can come up with answers at this point. Harbaugh is a slower-witted Kirk Ferenz. Andrew Luck is to blame for all of this. Hey I hear he's available.

Joined: 11/24/2018

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Hotel Putingrad

September 21st, 2019 at 4:01 PM ^

Harbaugh has lost the ability to motivate. Brown has lost the ability to prepare.

Offense is a rudderless ship.

Bowl eligibility is dubious with two injured quarterbacks, no running game, no defensive line depth, and a flailing offensive line.

Joined: 12/10/2014

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:01 PM ^

Michigan has gotten worse. Compare today with two years ago when a RS freshman QB, many of these same OLs, and DPJ came into Wisconsin when we all knew they’d lose and still looked better on offense. 

Its Harbaugh. We got our guy and he’s not good enough. 

Honestly, I’m tired. I am happier being less connected to football. We all are. Would you enjoy this afternoon more working on a hobby, spending family, hiking outdoors, working on a car?

I am. 

Not throwing in the towel. Not “done with this team.” I am always and will always be a Michigan fan. I’ll be around here, I’ll catch the games  

But this year I just can’t get too engaged. It isn’t fun. I’m happier without watching football. I enjoyed working in my office catching up on mail more during the second half than I would have enjoyed watching. 

Go Blue. I’m going to work in the garage. 

Joined: 03/15/2012

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:10 PM ^

I agree with both of you.  I feel about UM football right now the way I feel about the Detroit Tigers.  I'll have a game on the radio while I'm vacuuming or boiling soup.  But I can't be emotionally engaged in that type of shit-show.

Multiple turnovers.  Again.  Three games in a row.  Five years into Harbaugh's tenure.

Joined: 09/14/2011

MGoPoints: 400


September 21st, 2019 at 4:14 PM ^

You have accurately summarized the way I feel about the team and the season.   I will always cheer for my alma mater. "Winning" has not been essential to me for the past 15+ years through the RR, Hoke, and Harbaugh eras.  Competence and entertaining football is what I crave.  Losing does not hurt as much as "not showing up", getting crushed, and being out-coached.  

Blow out losses to ND, Penn State, Ohio State, Florida, and now, Wisconsin are more disappointing to me than close losses.   I enjoy competitive football.  We are not fielding a competitive team.  Until we do, it will be difficult to enjoy watching Michigan football.

Joined: 04/08/2010

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Blue Middle

September 21st, 2019 at 4:15 PM ^

Great post. The only way back from this is to win out, which looks like an impossibility.

The defense was bad. The offense was probably worse. There wasn’t nearly enough passion, and there was even less execution. We have better athletes at 21 positions and we got ham blasted.

Not ready to say “Fire Harbaugh” after game three, but this game is a complete coaching failure. Is Gattis spread Al Borges? Where did Brown’s defense go? Why wasn’t this team playing absolutely on fire in the biggest game of they’ve played since getting their butts handed to them in Columbus?

If the ship isn’t righted fast, then message board “fire Harbaugh” comments won’t matter, because Warde will have no choice. 

Joined: 01/07/2019

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:01 PM ^

Start McCaffery if he's healthy. He was the only player that had fire down 28-0 and his energy brought others along with him. Shea looks broken with little confidence and no swagger. Dylan is clearly a fighter and is ultra competitive. Maybe he can light a fire under Harbaugh? Harbaugh looks listless, too. Maybe a few 15 yard spaz out penalties would help. Dylan was the lone bright spot before the cheap shot hit on him.

Joined: 10/15/2013

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:01 PM ^

This game was completely on the coaches, I think this is a 7-5 season and it’s time for harbaugh to go, kids aren’t improving, no one could tackle, they can’t run routes, cant block, can’t pick up blitzes, can’t hang onto the football, all coaching and need a change, big ten is owned by osu for the foreseeable future 

Joined: 02/01/2017

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:23 PM ^

At least Rich Rod had some legit excuses. 

Harbaugh can't play the "These aren't my recruits" card, or "They didn't give me enough time to revolutionize the program" card the way Rich Rod could.

What's Jim's excuse? The numbers (both dollars and stats) seem to point to him having everything he needs for a team that shouldn't struggle against lower-ranked opponents, let alone unranked opponents.


Joined: 09/21/2019

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:04 PM ^

This game was Rich Rod bad on the Defensive side of the ball.  Teams have figured out that Don Brown does not play any Zone and that enough pre snap motion will provide a seam or a bubble in the defense that can be exploited.

I saw way to many times players leaving their gaps and trying to make the hero play and not doing what made this defense good, which is doing your assigned job and trusting those around you to do theirs. 

On the offensive side of the ball these WR's need to learn that if the first route is not there then work to get open, most big plays occur not when you win the first time but by making yourself available for your QB when things break down.  They need to watch Jeremy Gallon in the ND game on the big play at the end.   He worked his way to an open area and Robinson found him and that was the big play needed to have a chance to win. 

Really sad performance and Gattis has a lot of work to do and some hard decisions to make, and why the hell was Ben Mason in running the ball on that first drive?  Was Charbonet that hurt or were they trying to get cute at the wrong time of the game. 

Finally they have to grow up and stop making stupid mistakes.  DPJ's personal foul in the second quarter was just stupid and imature that play basically flipped the field in the Badger's favor for the rest of the quarter.


Joined: 05/09/2015

MGoPoints: 335


September 21st, 2019 at 4:05 PM ^

Harbaugh needs to go. He's clearly not up to it. Thanks for taking Michigan from dog shit to ten wins, but that doesn't mean you get to turn Michigan back into dog shit. 

Joined: 10/13/2018

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:05 PM ^

I guess the most concerning part to me is this is basically the same lineup on offense as last year. Either Patterson isn't seeing them open or the receivers aren't getting any separation .

Joined: 01/04/2011

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:10 PM ^

It was mentioned several times that the recievers are simply running a single route and stopping.  Good coaching will have the WR running the initial route and if the play is still happening they are taught to move towards the QB, especially if he is moving out of the pocket.  

Joined: 05/09/2015

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snarling wolverine

September 21st, 2019 at 4:05 PM ^

Uh yeah, that sucked.

The one positive is that our WRs are legit.  Wisconsin's DBs were insanely grabby and got away with a ton and still our WRs made plays.

Provided we have vaguely healthy QBs - let's just do the USC thing and lob it up early and often.

Joined: 12/14/2011

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:07 PM ^

I've been a Harbaugh defender consistently. But with this game he lost me. I'd rather go take a flyer on some young creative guy. Take the program down to the studs, and re-build it. 

Joined: 10/26/2009

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September 21st, 2019 at 4:10 PM ^

Trajectory is ....the SAME!  Pre-season: Offense = unknown commodity.  Defense = losing many starters to the NFL.  Receivers= what have they ever done in a game?  Even the O-Line has never shown the domination their praise portrays.  Additionally, the last 3 games of Jim Harbaugh Era have been a disaster.

With all of that, who thought this team should be in the top 10? Based on what?  I surely did not.  This team has no identity and has lots to prove before being allowed in the elite category.  

Lastly, all I wanted to see today was clean football and good coaching.  I saw neither.  I thought even with a likely loss, Harbaugh could prove himself as the elite coach he used to be (may still be). I am massively disappointed about this. 

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