Urban Meyer's Ownership of Michigan, Jim Harbaugh Sends CFB Playoff into Chaos

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystNovember 24, 2018

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
Ohio State head coach Urban MeyerNick Wass/Associated Press

If Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh couldn't beat Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer this year, when is it ever going to happen?

Aside from the 2011 season when Luke Fickell led the Buckeyes to a 6-7 disaster, Michigan hadn't been this obviously better than Ohio State since 1999. Given the way these teams had played in their first 11 gamesespecially the last five—it was feasible the Wolverines would win in blowout fashion, even on the road.

CFP No. 4 Michigan entered the day with the best pass defense in the nation, and by a wide margin. Meanwhile, CFP No. 10 Ohio State's defense was a massive question mark all season long, and the Buckeyes had just given up 51 points to Maryland one week ago.

Were it not for the history between these programs, Michigan might've been favored by double digits. And according to ESPN's gambling insider Ben Fawkes, "The Game" was the most heavily bet matchup of the day, with 70 percent of the money laying the five points and taking Michigan.

But Michigan didn't cover.

It didn't win, either.

Hell, the Wolverines weren't even competitive for large chunks of Ohio State's 62-39 beatdown.

At least two years ago, Harbaugh had the excuse of a questionable spot on an Ohio State fourth-down play in double overtime. The Wolverines were oh-so-close to victory in that pivotal road game for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

This time around with those same stakes, Harbaugh was even gifted an easy touchdown on a horrible fumble right before halftime, and he still got his milk-loving khakis stomped into the Horseshoe's turf.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh
Michigan head coach Jim HarbaughCorey Perrine/Getty Images

Dwayne Haskins destroyed a supposedly elite secondary with a steady diet of crossing routes and wheel routes, finishing with five passing touchdowns and leaping right back into the Heisman conversation. A much-maligned offensive line was sensational while the Buckeyes rushed for 249 yards and did not allow a single sack. And the defense played a whole heck of a lot better than the 39 points allowed would have you believe, as Michigan only had one legitimate touchdown drive in the first three quarters.

Meyer is now 7-0 in this rivalry while Harbaugh drops to 0-4, with three of those losses by double digits. Harbaugh is 38-9 in all other games, but a lot of good it's doing the Wolverines as they finish behind the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings year after year.

It's hard to imagine Michigan would consider firing Harbaugh. His recruiting has been great, and he has won at least 10 games in three out of four seasons, (presumably) finishing each of those three years in the Top 12 of the AP poll.

But if Michigan loses this game again next yearespecially considering it'll be in the Big Housemaybe it'll be time to move on. Because this is rapidly becoming a great big stain on Harbaugh's "legacy."

Bo Schembechler won his first game in this rivalry and finished 11-9-1 against Ohio State in his career. Lloyd Carr won his first three and five of his first six against the Buckeyes.

In fact, prior to Harbaugh, the only Michigan coach to not win at least one of his first two games against Ohio State was Rich Rodriguez. (Apologies to Michigan fans for sending an uncomfortable shiver down your spine by making note of that two-man club.)

One more loss and Harbaugh will be the first Michigan coach to ever lose five in a row in this series

But let's draw our focus back to the winning team, because now that Ohio State has locked up the Big Ten East Division and a spot in the conference championship game against Northwestern next week, there is major uncertainty in the College Football Playoff picture for the first time in at least a month.

Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins (7) and Baron Browning (5)
Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins (7) and Baron Browning (5)Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame are still clearly holding down the top three spots. And unless Clemson inexplicably loses to South Carolina on Saturday night or Pittsburgh next weekend or Notre Dame blows its perfect season at USC, you can go ahead and lock the Tigers, the Fighting Irish and the SEC champion into the playoff.

That fourth spot, though?

We're going to be arguing about that thing nonstop for the next 200 or so hours.

Michigan will obviously drop out of the Top Four. (Given how ugly that loss was, it may even fall out of the Top 10 altogether.) No. 8 Washington State also dropped out of the conversation with its Friday night loss to Washington. But Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU and Ohio State all still have a case for inclusion.

For now, it will almost certainly be Georgia at No. 4 when the next batch of rankings is released on Tuesday. The Bulldogs were No. 5, and they just beat the snot out of Georgia Tech. Given their wins away from home over Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina and the fact that their only loss of the season was a road game against the current No. 7 team (LSU), there was already a compelling case to be made that Georgia belonged in front of Michigan for the past two weeks. Hard to imagine they get leapfrogged.

So if Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, there shouldn't be much of a debate. With apologies to all the "One-loss conference champions!" arguments out there, it ought to be No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Alabama in that scenario.

But if the Dawgs lose to Alabamaas most are expectingthat's when all hell breaks loose.

With a win over Texas, would 12-1 Oklahoma move ahead of 11-2 Georgia? Most likely.

Would beating Northwestern to win the Big Ten be enough to vault 12-1 Ohio State ahead of both of those teams? It's possible, and it may well depend on how impressive the Buckeyes and Sooners look next week.

Or if Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State all lose, would Georgia remain at No. 4, or would it fall behind LSU because of the head-to-head result? (Camera pans to screaming UCF fans.)

There still a lot to be determined in Championship Week, but there is one thing for certain:

Neither Harbaugh nor Michigan will be a part of that final conversation, per usual.

                       

Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.

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