Jim Harbaugh was in his 30s and a quarterback for the San Diego Chargers the last time Michigan defeated Ohio State on the road during the 2000 season, but the 58-year-old head coach believes his Wolverines will be up to the challenge this year.
"They're not going to flinch," Harbaugh told reporters at Big Ten media days on Tuesday. "There's nothing I really gotta teach them or show them or tell them. I mean, I know our team really well by now. They don't blink, they don't flinch and they just keep attacking and building, and that's definitely our goal to win the championship again."
It shouldn't come as much surprise that Harbaugh is feeling confident.
While the first six years of his tenure as his alma mater's head coach were defined by near-misses and failed goals, things drastically changed in 2021. Michigan defeated its archrival for the first time with Harbaugh on the sidelines and just the second time since the 2003 season. It also won the Big Ten title for the first time since the conference title game was instituted in 2011.
The Wolverines lost to the eventual national champion Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff, but it was impossible to call the season anything but a success.
Yet the team apparently isn't satisfied with just one impressive campaign.
"[Last season] was great," Harbaugh said. "Now let's see if we get all four goals. Let's beat Michigan State and Ohio State in the same year. Let's win the Big Ten championship, let's win the national championship. Those are our four goals, and let's go attack."
Even in the midst of all that success in 2021, the Wolverines lost to the in-state rival Spartans.
Harbaugh has a combined 4-9 record against the school's two biggest rivals, so there is still work to be done if he is going to enjoy the sustained success that is the expectation at a program like Michigan.
Still, defeating Ohio State by 15 points last year was undoubtedly a satisfying result for a coach that frankly needed one. Beating the Buckeyes in back-to-back years, especially with all the offensive firepower they bring back with quarterback C.J. Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, will be anything but an easy task.
But the coach seems to be ready for what figures to be a motivated Scarlet and Gray bunch in front of a raucous crowd at Ohio Stadium.