The Michigan Wolverines have become college football’s most dominant force outside of the Georgia Bulldogs over the past two seasons. Within this two-year frame, the Wolverines hold a 25-3 record, only trailing the Bulldogs as college football’s winningest team. Back-to-back Big Ten champions, two consecutive playoff births and two dominating wins over Ohio State have led fans to believe that the Wolverines have finally arrived on the scene.
Since 2018 Michigan has only out recruited longtime rival Ohio State one time. It came in 2019. Yet, for two consecutive seasons the Wolverines have been the better team (and it really hasn’t been close).
How has this recent success been possible? If not more talented, where do they possess an advantage over the Buckeyes, and the rest of college football for that matter? Luckily, the answer is quite simple. Coaching.
It all comes down to coaching
When Jim Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor in 2015, expectations were glaringly high. Up until the 2021 season they weren’t exactly met. With an 0-5 record against Ohio State and a 2-4 record in a shortened 2020, the 2021 season began to look like a do or die situation. That’s when the culture shifted and Harbaugh realized the Wolverines needed a change in philosophy. They were not able to out talent their opponents,, so they chose to outwork them.
After the sudden revelation, the Michigan Wolverines quickly became college football’s most physical team on every given Saturday and the game plan couldn’t be simpler. In a game where we have become accustomed to the air raid offense, Jim Harbaugh has taken us back to simpler times. On every snap Michigan is going to line up and beat you in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Run the football, play stifling defense, and control the clock. The strategy is simple, right?
As simple as the game plan may sound, there is no question it has been wildly effective. Since 2021 Michigan has ranked no lower than 15th in the country in rushing yards per game. They also hold the same rankings in terms of the opposing team’s total yards per game. They are dominating time of possession and bringing back a style of football I never thought would return. At least, not on the biggest stage.
The 2023 season will arrive in no time
Fast forward and we are slowly but surely arriving to the beginning of a new year, the start of the 2023 season. For the Wolverines, nothing should be different except expectations. With the return of Blake Corum, Michigan will bring back the best rushing attack in football, followed by what one can only expect to be a stout defense. Add in a promising young but proven quarterback in J.J. McCarthy, and it is officially time we look for more.
A Big Ten championship and playoff berth is no longer satisfying. The Michigan Wolverines have not played for a college football championship in 26 years and, with the recent success, 2023 will be a championship or bust campaign.
Article written by Woodward Sports guest writer, Kyle Hoyt
Photo Credit: © Detroit Free Press
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