Harbaugh has Wolverines breathing fire -- and no one wants a piece of them
For as much hype as Jim Harbaugh received this offseason for his return to Michigan, he and his team have done the unthinkable. He's not only lived up to the hype, but he's actually exceeded it.
His Wolverines destroyed No. 13 Northwestern, 38-0, to notch Michigan's third consecutive shutout. It's a feat that no FBS team had achieved in 20 years, dating to Kansas State in 1995.
Michigan has now outscored its opposition 97-0 over its past three games, not allowing a point over 41 straight defensive possessions. Beyond that, the Wolverines have outscored their opposition 157-7 over the past 19 quarters. They are now 5-1, with the lone loss coming in the opener against a very tough Utah team on the road.
Michigan's five wins are as many as the program had all of last season.
Northwestern had proved to be a solid team, buoyed by a big win in its opener against Harbaugh's old team, Stanford. On Saturday, the Wolverines bullied the Wildcats and what was the No. 4 defense in the country. Michigan limited Northwestern to 211 rushing yards under its season average.
Harbaugh has followed the same blueprint he -- and his staff -- used to transform his University of San Diego, Stanford and San Francisco 49er teams. His squads are relentlessly competitive and tough -- just like their leader.
Along with Florida, the Wolverines are this season's biggest surprise. But truth be told, it shouldn't come as a shock that Harbaugh has Michigan playing well. The guy once turned the worst program in major college football into a BCS bowl team within a few years, but no one -- outside of Harbaugh himself -- could've envisioned all this happening this fast.
With apologies to Alabama, Notre Dame, UCLA and Ole Miss, Harbaugh's Wolverines are hands down the most impressive one-loss team in college football. No opponent has gotten close to them since their stumble in the opener. There have been no struggles, no off games, no bad starts.
Next up is what should be a much stiffer test, when an unbeaten Michigan State team visits Ann Arbor. Last year, the Wolverines were a 17-point underdog against the Spartans. After the way the past month has gone (the Spartans barely escaped again this week with a close win over hapless Rutgers), it'll be a surprise if Michigan loses.
A few months ago, I picked Michigan to go 8-4. I knew the defense would be pretty strong, especially with gifted DB Jabrill Peppers set to emerge as a star, but the offense seemed underwhelming. My logic: They'd win with defense and Harbaugh would toughen up a shaky O-line and run game. In short, I figured Harbaugh could will this program to eight wins. In the back of my mind, I thought that was being overly optimistic.
After watching Harbaugh's Wolverines dominate another opponent, this time a Top 15 team, I'm starting to think I may have undersold the guy.
Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FS1. He is also a New York Times best-selling author. His new book, “The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks,” came out in October 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB and Facebook.