ANN ARBOR, MI (WTOL) - When Jim Harbaugh first arrived in Ann Arbor, fans hoped he would be the man who would finally bring the Wolverines back to national prominence. From the start, his flashy recruiting style and press conference jabs at Urban Meyer and Nick Saban quickly won over the long-suffering fans.
Three years later however, Harbaugh is again out of Big 10 and national championship hunt. And even with top recruiting classes coming in, there is conversation that Harbaugh's time is underwhelming and not meeting the high expectations. And perhaps there is no stain greater on his record than two straight losses against Ohio State.
More than any other team with high expectations, Michigan perhaps may have had the more obstacles to overcome for success.
The Wolverines returned only five starters this year, the least of any FBS team. Despite this glaring weakness, Michigan was ranked eighth in the preseason poll.
The Wolverines began their season with a hyped bout against then 17th ranked Florida in Arlington, TX. The young Wolverines stepped onto the big stage and defeated the Gators 33-17.
Michigan continued to win throughout the month of September, despite having early struggles against Cincinnati and Purdue.
In the first game of October, Michigan State returned Ann Arbor for the first time since their 2015 bout that ended in one of the most bizarre final second plays college football history.
Both teams struggled to move the ball offensively as heavy rains pounded the field. The Spartans took an early 14-3 lead into halftime. They clung to the lead after the Wolverines scored a third quarter touchdown to bring the game within one score. But both teams were shutout in the final period, handing Michigan their first loss of the season by a final score of 14-10.
Michigan followed that loss with an overtime victory over Indiana, who was winless in the conference.
The next week, Penn State hosted the Wolverines in what Nittany Lions fans saw as a revenge game.
Penn State pounded the Wolverines 42-13, effectively knocking Michigan out of the conference title hunt.
Michigan won their next three games against Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland, setting up yet another big match-up.
This time the Wolverines, who had climbed back into the Top 25, faced against undefeated, but untested Wisconsin.
Michigan were tied with the Badgers at halftime. But in the second half, the Wolverines struggling offense again became their liability as they managed only a field goal in the second half. Wisconsin would go on to beat Michigan 24-10 to preserve their undefeated record.
With the struggles on the field, coaching rumors are floating around the program. While Michigan would likely not fire Harbaugh, there are notable NFL positions predicted to come open if Harbaugh would like to return to the league.
But Harbaugh can quickly quell the rumors and questions about the program's direction with a win over Ohio State. The Buckeyes are already in the Big 10 Championship, but they are also playing for a possible spot in the College Football Playoff.
For Wolverine fans, nothing would be sweeter than to crush those dreams with a victory over their hated rival.