To look at Jim Harbaugh's time at Michigan on paper is a Rorschach test. He's 40-14 at Michigan, has three 10-win seasons and could land a fourth this season. However, he's never won so much as a Big Ten East title ... let alone a Big Ten title ... let alone made the College Football Playoff. These encompass all of the things he was hired to do. A big reason for that is he's a whopping 0-for against Ohio State. But that's not just a Harbaugh problem. Michigan has lost 14 of its last 15 against the Buckeyes, including the last seven, with the only victory coming in 2011 when Ohio State was led by interim coach Luke Fickell.
So it goes without saying that Michigan is behind Ohio State on a number of fronts. If you were to ask former Wolverines star wideout Braylon Edwards, though, that's underselling it. Appearing on "The DA Show" on CBS Sports, Edwards scoffed at the idea that his alma mater was merely falling behind Ohio State.
"Falling? We fell," Edwards said. "It's past tense. We're light years behind Ohio State right now."
Your mileage may vary on just how far Michigan is behind its biggest rival. The Wolverines recruit well enough to contend with Ohio State on paper. Come time for "The Game" they've come agonizingly close to winning on more than a few occasions. So why hasn't Michigan been able to get over the hump? In Edwards' eyes, it comes down to how Michigan views the game itself.
"My biggest concern, if I'm being honest . . . I know the pressure, and I know the respect and I know the emphasis that they put on that Michigan game," Edwards said regarding Ohio State. "Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year, they are breathing, living, hating – they can't even say our name. They hate us so much. When they go into that game, that's that old-school, 1960s football, Friday Night Lights in Texas – that's the atmosphere. That's what they bring to the table when they play us. You can feel it on them. You can almost smell the hate when you play against them."
Counter that with Harbaugh's supposed approach. Per Edwards, Harbaugh told him a couple of years ago that he approaches the Ohio State game like any other, and that's where Edwards draws the line.
"That's not the way you approach that game," Edwards said. "I know it's cliche to say you approach every team like you approach any other team. That's B.S. You approach certain teams differently. We got to start approaching that game from the standpoint that they do. I feel like when we go into that game, you're looking at two different preparation systems."
Michigan hosts Ohio State on Nov. 30. Seeing as the Wolverines were the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, this year certainly has a "if not now, then when?" feel to it. Of course, that's been a growing sentiment for Michigan for some time.