ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Jim Harbaugh now faces something he has never encountered in his college career.


After a startling 14-10 upset loss to "Little Brother" Michigan State, a bit of the veneer has been stripped bare from the Harbaugh myth here at Michigan.

He's still a great coach. We know that. We've been hit over the head with it.  But the bottom line is starting to loom bigger than the robust Spartan defense that shut down the punchless Wolverine offense Saturday night.

Coach Khaki is 1-4 against his alma mater's two biggest rivals. If it hasn't already, that will soon become an issue.

So will this unsavory nugget: Harbaugh is 13-3 at home halfway through his third season. All three losses are to the hated Buckeyes and Spartans.

As much as they love Harbaugh here, they hate Ohio State more. He is 0-2 against the Buckeyes. Since Harbaugh took the job three years ago, Mark Dantonio has beaten Michigan twice himself and taken the Spartans to the College Football Playoff.

"It's up there," Coach D said of the win, raising his hand as high as it would reach. "Way up there."

Halfway through that Year 3, Harbaugh has a pair of third-place finishes in the Big Ten East and growing uncertainty.

Too soon?

Judging by Saturday, Harbaugh probably won't win a Big Ten title until at least 2018. There are hurdles to clear before we consider Michigan-under-Harbaugh a conference contender.

They are colored scarlet and gray, green and white.

If there's one thing that gets folks' attention around here, it's Michigan losing face. Rich Rodriguez shamed them. So did Brady Hoke, but halfway through his third season, he was 2-3 against Michigan State and Ohio State.

There are giant holes in these Wolverines that were exposed before and during a second-half deluge.

Quarterback John O'Korn has been in the program for three years. There is a reason the Houston transfer hasn't played much until now, when he had to be inserted because of an injury to starter Wilton Speight.

"I take full responsibility for this loss," O'Korn said.

He shouldn't have to.

Both quarterbacks play behind an iffy offensive line. O'Korn got sacked four times, and if not for nifty feet, it would have been more. Michigan started the day tied for 92nd nationally in sacks allowed. That ranking will plummet.

Those hard hits contributed to three picks thrown by O'Korn. Also, there is no difference-making running back to carry some of the offensive load.

Michigan was expected to take a step back this season. What was it doing ranked No. 7  going into Saturday? It returned the fewest starters in the country, only one on defense. But didn't that happen to Ohio State last year? The Buckeyes managed to squeeze out 11 wins. Oh, and they beat the Wolverines.

Harbs can do all the fully-clothed cannonballs he wants. He can conduct as many spring practices in Rome as the Pope can stand. He can troll his coaching peers on Twitter. Sooner or later, the fans will start to demand Harbaugh clear those hurdles.

When asked what the reaction should be to that 1-4 mark, Harbaugh told me, "I don't know. We're bowing our necks getting ready for the next game. That's our reaction."

Meanwhile, his team had just turned it over five times without taking any away from Michigan State. His defense shut out the Spartans for the last 38 minutes. It kept Michigan State without a first down for 27 consecutive plays spanning parts of three quarters spanning nine possessions.

Those accomplishments shouldn't be describing a disheartening loss.

Michigan State has now gone 8-2 in a decade against Michigan for the first time ever. While only three-tenths of that record is on Harbaugh, it's another example of how emotion rules these blood rivalries.

All of that 8-2 has come since Mike Hart's "Little Brother" comment that took the rivalry to a new level.

"It's definitely talked about," Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke said. "It's definitely played before the game. It's something that motivates us."

The game will be labeled an upset, but Michigan sitting in the top 10 looked overrated from the beginning. With Florida's loss Saturday, it is likely the Wolverines will be without a win over a currently ranked team come Sunday afternoon.

And please, no excuses about that second-half rainstorm. Both teams played in it. The conditions were awful. End of story.

This all comes back to Harbaugh and where his program goes from here. At the University of San Diego, he was an NFL quarterback getting his head coaching career started. At Stanford, he made the Cardinal the loveable underdog while smack-talking Pete Carroll.

He went to a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, further solidifying his credentials. But here, he came home. They expect big things in Ann Arbor.

Wait, they expect bigger things. Sooner or later, the 112,000 who jammed Michigan Stadium will become impatient along with the hundreds of thousands of other living alumni.

Again, too soon? Not when a Nebraska can fire an athletic director after three weeks. Not after LSU fans want to fire their coach after five games.

No one said Harbaugh is getting fired. Penn State hosts Michigan in a couple of weeks. A win there and everything turns back around. That's not the point. Along with that $9 million salary comes expectations.

You can't overachieve at Michigan. Ever. You're always chasing Bo, a Big Ten title, a top-10 ranking or the ghosts of a national championship. On a night Michigan saluted the 1997 national title winners, the current Wolverines could only wave and smile at their predecessors.

The first half included three points, three sacks, one fumble and lots of sloppy play.

The second half featured rain -- lots and lots of rain.

Might as well think of it as tears -- big, giant, wet, sloppy tears.