Jim Harbaugh has has suffered two of the worst losses I've ever seen in just two short seasons as the head coach at Michigan. In 2015 the "go blue" faithful were devastated by the blocked punt incident at home against the Michigan State Spartans, who then went on to claim the Big 10 championship and a bid in the playoffs.
This year it was the narrow defeat to the hated Buckeyes that included a fourth and one play where JT Barrett picked up the first down by the narrowest of margins and then Ohio State won the game on the next play.
There was a lot of fury over that fourth down spot, as well as Ohio State's avoidance of penalties throughout the game. Personally I thought the Buckeyes did enjoy a little bit of home cooking overall but I also thought it looked fairly conclusive (or at the least too inconclusive to overturn) that Barrett did indeed pick up the first down.
In my "Harbaugh vs Meyer: Round II" preview at Football Study Hall I scored their first round in 2015 a 10-8 win for Meyer.
I'm calling this one a 10-10 tie. Yes, technically the Buckeyes won but Michigan controlled the game up until the fourth quarter, took things into double overtime, and were playing on the road. I think the Wolverines are the better team this year, but the Buckeyes won where it matters and they'll probably gain the reward that comes with it in the form of a playoff berth.
In the playoffs, I think Ohio State will be a worthy entry and have a good a chance as most of beating Alabama.
Now, the popular sentiment in Columbus right now seems to be that the Buckeyes just staved off the Wolverines and that now they'll be in position to reign supreme in the Big 10 East for a year or so while Michigan licks their wounds and rebuilds a roster that is about to lose a ton of players to graduation and the NFL. This is, of course, totally wishful thinking and completely detached from reality.
Harbaugh vs Meyer will continue on and next year the Wolverines will also have a veteran QB and will be the team playing at home. Don Brown has built elite defenses at Boston College utilizing less talent then what he'll have on the Michigan roster next season and the Wolverine offense will likely be one step closer to realizing Harbaugh's vision for a power-coast team with balance from the passing game and overpowering muscle at the point of attack.
When you have a system and program fully installed, losing starters doesn't have to kill you so long as you have players waiting in the wings that have been developed in the system for two-to-three years waiting to step in. Ohio State fans should know this as it's the reason they are consistently good every year regardless of whether they have returning starters at multiple positions or not.
The Buckeyes just survived the opening salvo from Harbaugh that came with Hoke's players. They aren't going to come away as the kings of this rivalry and the Harbaugh vs Meyer war until they fend off a Michigan team stocked with Harbaugh players.
Round III should be another good one.