A Closer Look at Joe Burrow & LSU Magical Season

A Closer Look at Joe Burrow & LSU Magical Season

The college football world first met Joe Burrow in 2015 when he re-shirted at Ohio State during his freshman season. After throwing only 39 passes in 10 starts, Burrow transferred to LSU after realizing he would sit behind Dwayne Haskins in his junior season.

In 2018 Burrow started all 13 games for LSU, leading them to a 10-3 record and 40-32 victory over UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. During the season, Burrow struggled in losses against Florida and Alabama, completing 37 of 69 passes (53.6 percent) for 376 yards, 3 INT, and did not throw a TD. For the season, he finished with decent numbers (2,894 passing yards, 16 TD, 5 INT and completed 57.8 percent of his passes). Burrow and the LSU offense gave little indication of what was coming in 2019.

What A Difference A Year Makes
Joe Burrow, 2018 vs 2019
Passing Yards5,6712,894
Passing TD60>>16
TD Responsible For65>>23
Comp. Pct.76.357.8
Yards PG378.0222.6
Yards P/A10.87.6
>>NCAA Records

In their season opener against Georgia Southern, Burrow (23-27, 278 yds, 5 TD) & company put up big numbers in a 55-3 win. The next week Burrow and LSU both received national attention, defeating #9 Texas in Austin, 45-38. Burrow finished with 471 passing yards, 4 TD, and again completed a high percentage of throws (31-39, 79.5 pct).

While putting up impressive numbers against the Big XII (even a top-10 Big XII opponent on the road), Burrow and his new offensive prowess still had yet to show the SEC what was in store for them. Against Vanderbilt in their conference opener, Burrow continued his onslaught. LSU’s 66 points were there most against an SEC opponent in a regulation game. Burrow set a team record with 6 TD while throwing for 398 yards.

Against Florida, the Tigers passed their first SEC test as Burrow, and their offense continued to thrive. The Gators 42-28 loss at LSU saw them give up a season-high 511 yards while allowing Burrow to complete 21 of 24 passes for 298 yards and 3 TD. How impressive was LSU? Florida’s defense only allowed 400 yards to one other opponent (finished 11-2, ranked #6 in final AP Poll).

2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow (9) established himself as a team leader in 2019

Despite scoring 36 points, Mississippi State held the Tigers to a season-low 413 yards. The next week, Auburn became the third top-10 opponent to fall but held them to a season-low 23 points.

The second weekend of November brought undefeated Alabama, who embarrassed Burrow and the LSU offense last season. The Crimson Tide’s 29-0 victory in Death Valley, ended the Tigers hopes of a National Championship in 2018. Burrow completed a career-low 51.4 percent of his throws while throwing one of his two INT thrown at home. If the 29-0 score wasn’t enough proof of Alabama’s domination, LSU gained a season-low 196 yards while allowing 576 to the Tide’s explosive group.

The 2019 version of Alabama was just as explosive offensively, but were much weaker defensively. Another another colossal test for LSU would be the location of the contest. By traveling to Tuscaloosa, the Tigers would be slaying their biggest demon in their home. The Tigers 8-game losing streak to the Tide featured three shutouts. If Burrow and the LSU offense wanted to be taken seriously as the team to beat in the SEC, Alabama had to go down.

The final result answered all of the Tigers critics, as LSU held on to a 46-41 victory over the defending SEC Champs. Burrow was equally impressive, turning around his 2018 performance by throwing for 393 yards and 3 TD. The Tigers 559 total yards was 360 yards improved over their 2018 letdown. Burrow also passed his season total of 2018 in passing yards, despite this being only his ninth game.

The win over Alabama put LSU in position to focus on achieving the goals they had set out to when the season began. Their victory over Arkansas clinched the SEC West for the first time since 2011. Two weeks later, Georgia fell 37-10 in the SEC Championship.

Win Heisman Trophy & National Championship
QB, Same Season, NCAA History
YearTeamPass YdsTD/INTRush YdsRush TD
Joe Burrow2019LSU5,67160/63695
Jameis Winston2013Florida St.4,05740/102194
Cam Newton2010Auburn2,85430/71,47320
Matt Leinart2004USC3,32233/6-443
Danny Wuerffel1996Florida3,62539/13-1002
Charlie Ward1993Florida St.3,03227/43394
John Lujack1947Notre Dame7779/8139->>
Angelo Bertelli1943Notre Dame51210/422->>
Davey O’Brien1938TCU1,50919/44663
>>Records Not Kept

Individual goals for Burrow soon came his way. On December 14, Burrow became the 4th straight QB and 17th this century to win Heisman Trophy. He joined Billy Cannon in 1959 as the only LSU Tigers to win the award. Burrow didn’t just win the award; he lapped the competition. He set voting records for: Highest percentage of 1st place votes (90.7); Largest Margin of Victory (1,846 pts); Highest percentage of possible points (93.8) and Percentage of Ballots Received (95.5).

As impressive as Burrow’s regular season was (48 TD/6 INT, 4,698 pass yds, 77.8 comp. pct), he had another gear to show in the College Football Playoff. He set records with 7 TD in the first half and a career-high with 493 passing yards, as LSU advanced to the National Championship with a 63-28 win over Oklahoma.

Burrow’s final performance on the College Football stage, mirrored all of his 2019 record-setting performances. Facing a 17-7 deficit, Burrow’s rushing TD on third and goal ignited the LSU offense. LSU outscored Clemson 35-8 the rest of the game, finishing with 631 total yards (463 passing) and 45 points against the nation’s top-ranked defense.

LSU Head Coaches
National Champions, This Century
Ed Orgeron201915-0
Les Miles200712-2
Nick Saban200313-1

The final result saw Ed Orgeron become the third different head coach to win a National Championship for LSU this century. Burrow became the 9th different QB to win both the National Championship and the Heisman Trophy in the same year. Burrow set NCAA single-season records for a QB for TD thrown (60) and TD responsible for (65). His 5,671 passing yards were the third-highest total in NCAA history, and his completion percentage of 76.3 ranks second.

Burrow and the Tigers ended their season as one of the most dominant teams in College Football history.

LSU joined Clemson in 2018 as the only team in NCAA history to finish 15-0. The Tigers also set team records for most points in a season (726) and most yards in a season (8,527).

The Cincinnati Bengals will most likely draft Burrow with the first overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Quite a remarkable accomplishment for a QB that began the season as an afterthought, but forever made his mark in the College Football world.

Which Tiger Will Earn Their Stripes?

Which Tiger Will Earn Their Stripes?

NEW YORK, N.Y.- It’s almost here. After what feels like forever and a day since the College Football Playoff semifinal games took place, the national championship is right around the corner. The best matchup we’ve seen both on paper and on the field is set to take place in New Orleans as the top ranked LSU Tigers takes on on the defending champions and third ranked Clemson Tigers. 

So which team has the edge going in? Both have identical 14-0 records and have star power all over the field. Below are three keys for each team on how they can leave New Orleans hoisting the championship trophy.    

Three Keys To A LSU Win:

Touchdowns, Not Field Goals: Watching the Fiesta Bowl easily hammers home this point. Ohio State moved the ball up and down the field against Clemson, but continuously settled for field goals, which kept Clemson around. LSU has to score touchdowns once they get inside the 20, which hasn’t been a problem for them this season. LSU has been deadly in the red zone, owning the most efficient red zone offense in the country, scoring at a 97% clip. The Tigers have entered the red zone 70 times, scoring a touchdown 55 times. This is a trend that must continue, especially considering that LSU has already faced three teams with a better red zone defense than Clemson, which is tied for 16th in the country. Red zone efficiency will be a huge key to this game and is a category that favors LSU.


Defensive Confidence: Throughout the year, the Tigers defense has been a question mark and left many, including myself, believing that the defense was holding them back from being a championship level team. Things have changed as LSU has shored up their defense. A big reason for that has been availability, as safety Grant Delpit recovered from an ankle injury, K’Lavon Chaisson is back to 100% and Michael Divinity Jr. will return from suspension to suit up for the Tigers. The narrative has changed dramatically as since the Ole Miss game, where significant doubts that the defense would hold LSU back from winning a national title, the Tigers have allowed just 270.2 yards per game and 14.2 points per game. The Tigers aced their biggest test of the season, holding a potent Oklahoma offense to 200 fewer yards and almost two touchdowns less than their per-game average. The defense is playing with an extreme confidence that will carry into Monday’s game. 

Feed Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The “do it all” back has been virtually unstoppable this season. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman wrote a great article this week, asking coaches who faced LSU this season how their offense has been so unstoppable. Aside from Burrow, the coaches highlighted Edwards-Helaire as who gives defenses the most problems. The junior running back has rushed for 1,304 yards while adding 50 catches for 399 yards and 17 total touchdowns. Edward-Helaire is a matchup nightmare as he’s a bruiser between the tackles, can speed past linebackers in coverage, run over the cornerbacks who try to tackle him and juke past the safeties that try to corral him. The premier running back should be close to full health after injuring his hamstring in practice leading up to the semifinal game against Oklahoma. If he’s in the mix early and often, it could be a frustrating night for Clemson. 

Three Keys To A Clemson Win:​

Complete Effort: While LSU has played both elite offenses and defenses at different points this season, they have yet to face a team that has both an elite offense and defense. Clemson poses that challenge as their defense is tied for first in the nation in yards per play allowed while the Clemson offense is third in total offense. This balance can put pressure on LSU like they’ve never experienced this season. The best defense against Burrow this season has been offense. While not their specialty, long drives by Clemson can not only can keep the potent LSU offense off the field, but wear down their defense to open up some big plays in the second half. While LSU is more battle tested this season, Clemson has the advantage coming out of that Ohio State game of knowing what it takes to win a game in which all three phases are needed to perform at their highest level. 

Flex Offensive Firepower: Did we all forget that this is the same Clemson offense that shredded Notre Dame and Alabama for a combined 1,020 yards and 74 points in the two Playoff games last year? For all of the hype and attention Burrow and this LSU offense has received, let’s not sleep on this juggernaut of an offense that resides in South Carolina. The Tigers rank third in the country in total yards, fourth in scoring offense and 11th in rushing offense. They have superstars at every level offensively as Trevor Lawrence is the presumed number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Travis Etienne leads the nation at eight yards per carry while both Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross are legitimate No. 1 receivers. LSU has only faced one offense similar to Clemson’s in Alabama and allowed 41 points. LSU has elite offensive talent, but Clemson has a real chance to give the Tigers a taste of their own medicine and put on an offensive explosion in the Superdome. 

Ride The Underdog Wave: Speaking of the Superdome, this national championship game will have a totally different feel than most because of its close proximity to LSU’s campus. Located just over an hour away, New Orleans will be flooded with fans clad in purple and gold. No coach has worked the underdog role more than Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. Dabo lives to be the underdog and has “Little Ol’ Clemson” playing their best when they have a chip on their shoulder. Already underdogs in terms of the betting line and essentially playing a road game in New Orleans, Dabo gets to fire up the disrespect card one last time this season. 

So Who Gets It Done?

The storybook season for Joe Burrow and LSU is leading me to believe more and more that Monday night in New Orleans will be a coronation for the Tigers. I mean even Hollywood couldn’t even write this script of an Ohio kid transferring in and after a decent first year teams up with a young passing game coordinator to produce the single greatest college football season we’ve ever seen from a player and possibly even a team if they can finish the job. 

What’s made me a believer isn’t Burrow or passing coordinator Joe Brady, but the LSU defense steadily improving and peaking at the right time. This combination of a historic offense coupled with a confident defense is enough for me to drink the kool-aid and believe that LSU will get it done Monday night. 

Jalen Hurts NFL Draft Stock Rising with Success of Lamar Jackson

Jalen Hurts NFL Draft Stock Rising with Success of Lamar Jackson

The NFL reminds us every so often that imitation is the best form of flattery. Year after year, teams take what succeeds and add their touch to it.

Looking toward the 2020 NFL Draft, general managers around the league will be trying to recreate the success which Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens enjoy. Which QB in the 2020 NFL Draft possesses the same traits that Jackson does?

Despite the success he achieved in Tuscaloosa, Hurts didn’t record the passing and rushing numbers at Alabama as he has in Norman. In his three seasons playing for Nick Saban, he threw for a combined 5,626 yards while throwing 48 TD. 


Like those who came before him, Hurts was excellent running the ball in leading the Tide’s offense, running for 1,976 yards and 23 TD in his three seasons at Alabama. His speed and strength became legend among teammates during the Tide’s 2017 spring testing.

Hurts ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds. In comparison, the fastest time for a quarterback at the 2017 NFL scouting combine was 4.54.

Hurts also had a 315-pound power clean, bench-pressed 355 pounds, squatted 455 pounds and recorded a 9-foot, 9-inch broad jump, a good number in a drill that tests lower body explosiveness.

This season at Oklahoma, Hurts set team regular season records for passing efficiency (200.3), completion percentage (71.8), and yards per pass attempt (11.8). Not bad for someone replacing consecutive Heisman Trophy Winners and first overall selections in the two previous NFL drafts (Baker Mayfield 2018 and Kyler Murray in 2019). Overall, he threw for 3,851 yards & 32 touchdowns while running for 1,298 yards & 20 TD. He ran and threw for a TD in 10 games this season, becoming the ninth different QB to accomplish that feat (Lamar Jackson did so at Louisville in 2017). 

Most Times Running & Throwing For TD
Same Game, College Football History
Tim TebowFlorida32
Colin KaepernickNevada28
Jalen HurtsAlabama/Oklahoma26
Lamar JacksonLouisville25

While Lamar Jackson sets the NFL on fire with his run/pass numbers, he is setting a precedent for what other teams will now look to repeat. 

In 2019, Jackson became the first QB in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards and pass for over 3,000 yards in a single-season. 

From a team standpoint, the Ravens were separated by just 71 yards in rushing and passing. They finished as the first team in NFL history to run and pass for 3,000 yards in a single-season. They also set the NFL single-season team record for rushing yards (3,296), breaking the mark held by the 1978 New England Patriots (3,165). It is incredible that in the history of the NFL, no other team featured such balance in running and passing the football. The only other team in NFL history to reach 2,800 yards in each category was the 1978 New England Patriots.

2800 Team Rushing & Passing Yards
Single-Season, NFL History
2019 Baltimore Ravens14-23,225373,29621
1978 New England Patriots11-52,800153,16530

While Jackson and the Ravens were making NFL history, Jalen Hurts was making his own at Oklahoma. Hurts joined Johnny Manziel & Lamar Jackson as the only other players in college football to run for 1,200 yards and pass for 3,600 in a single-season. Hurts surpassed both Manziel & Jackson in passing yards, becoming the only player to throw for 3,800 yards & run for 1,200.

3,600 Passing Yards, 1,200 Rushing Yards
QB Single-Season, College Football HistoryPassingRushing
YearSchoolYards TDYardsTD
2019Jalen HurtsOklahoma3,851321,29820
2012Johnny ManzielTexas A&M3,706261,41021
2017Lamar JacksonLouisville3,660271,60118

For his career, Hurts became the fifth player in college football history to run for 3,000 yards and throw for 9,000. Right below him on that list is Lamar Jackson.

3,000 Rushing Yards, 9,000 Passing Yards
NCAA Career
Passing TDRushingTD
J.T. Barrett9,4341043,26343
Colin Kaepernick10,098824,11259
Jalen Hurts9,477803,27443
Lamar Jackson9,043694,13250
Cody Fajardo9,659573,48244

I will be very interested to see what teams will take advantage of what unique gifts Jalen Hurts brings to the NFL. I predict his draft stock will skyrocket during the NFL Combine.

This Will Be The Greatest College Football Playoff Yet

NEW YORK, N.Y.- The stage is finally set. After months of deliberation and debate, the four teams that will make up the College Football Playoff are set. LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma will all battle it out to hoist the national championship trophy.

The College Football Playoff is in its sixth season and while there have been some exciting games and a few shocking outcomes, we’ve yet to have all three games come down to the wire, pit equally talented teams against each other and have us all walk away feeling like we saw the best three games of the year. Blowouts have unfortunately been commonplace, but this year’s field sets up in a way that could go against the norm.  The 2020 Playoff has all of the necessary ingredients to produce the best one we’ve ever seen in its short existence.

Star Power:

All four teams provide household names even the casual college football fan is familiar with: Joe Burrow. Chase Young. Justin Fields. Jalen Hurts. Trevor Lawrence. Each quarterback has their own case of being the best in the country to go along with the best overall player gives both semifinal matchups a real sexiness. In fact, all four Heisman Trophy contenders are playing in the Playoff: Burrow, Young, Fields and Hurts. This is the first time in the six years of the Playoff that every Heisman finalist is on one of the final four schools remaining.

On top of the great quarterback play, stars fill out every roster of the four teams. Oklahoma has the best receiver in the country in CeeDee Lamb while LSU, Ohio State and Clemson own three of the deepest receiving corps in the country. Isaiah Simmons has emerged as the next great Clemson defensive star while Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray might be the most athletic, sideline to sideline linebacker in the country. Whether it’s at running back, defensive back or offensive line, each team is loaded, providing for must-watch matchups all over the field.

Photo courtesy of Heisman.com

Coaching Prowess:

Because players cycle in and out every three or four years, coaches become the face of programs. Having four big time coaches competing against each other adds an intriguing angle to an already exciting Playoff field. No coach has had the success that Dabo Swinney has had these last five years, posting a .944 winning percentage, making the Playoff all five years and winning two national titles. Ed Orgeron is the most eccentric and viral coach you can have, as his weekly press conferences and pregame entrances flood social media every week. He’s captivated the Bayou crowd and made them believers.

Both Lincoln Riley and Ryan Day were tasked with the impossible: replacing a legend at their school. Riley, since taking over for Bob Stoops, has led Oklahoma to the Playoff all three years and has coached three Heisman Trophy finalist quarterbacks, with two of them winning the award. Day, in succeeding Urban Meyer, has the Buckeyes at 12-0 for the first time since Meyer led an NCAA sanctioned Ohio State team to a 12-0 record in his first season, when they were ineligible for postseason play. All four teams boast successful, rock-star like coaches that will be fun to watch scheming against each other.

Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Strength vs. Strength:

The rankings perfectly align these four teams to test what each does well and because of that, provides the two best matchups we could have asked for this season on paper. LSU and Oklahoma have two of the most explosive offenses in the country, as the Tigers and Sooners come in with the top two offenses in terms of yards per game. Both can score at will, as the Burrow-led offense owns the third best scoring offense, while the Hurts-driven Oklahoma offense is fifth in scoring. Both defenses have shown improvement, but sometimes struggle as holding down the opposing offense. This could lead to offensive explosion, as we may see a game reminiscent of the Georgia-Oklahoma 2018 semifinal that saw the Bulldogs win 54-48 in 2 OT’s.

On the flip side, Ohio State and Clemson have proven to be the two most balanced teams in the country. Ohio State is the best scoring offense in the nation, while the Tigers aren’t too far behind at fourth. Each team’s defense has been stout as well, with the Buckeyes owning the third best scoring defense while Clemson sits at the top in college football. You can breakdown every position for these two teams and neither has a significant edge over the other. This Ohio State-Clemson matchup in the Fiesta Bowl will be significantly more competitive than the last time these two teams matched up in the Fiesta Bowl, as the Tigers bulldozed the Buckeyes 31-0.

Any way you look at these two semifinal games, it’s hard to look back and think we’ve had as exciting and balanced of matchups in the history of the College Football Playoff. While it’s widely regarded that LSU, Ohio State and Clemson are in a class of their own compared to Oklahoma, the Sooners have the elite scoring ability to keep this an exciting game. From the superstar names on the field to the brand names of the schools involved to the head coaches squaring off against each other to the even strengths on the field, we are primed for the three most exciting and well-played games the Playoff has ever seen. Is it December 28th yet?     

A College Football Playoff Without Alabama? Say it isn’t so!

A College Football Playoff Without Alabama? Say it isn’t so!

While the rest of the College Football world gets ready to watch conference championship games and prepare for the playoffs, fans of Alabama are in an unfamiliar position.

Saturday’s brutal loss against Auburn eliminated the Tide from their fifth straight College Football Playoff appearance. Entering this season, they were the only program that advanced to the playoff in each of the four seasons since its inception. Despite showcasing an explosive offense that figured to feature at least four first-round picks in the 2020 NFL draft, Alabama fans find themselves with a strange feeling entering the offseason.

First off, let us give significant props to Mac Jones. Widely considered an afterthought by the “elite” media, Jones showed heart, poise, and talent that made fans of the Yellowhammer state damn proud. Despite giving Auburn 14 points, Jones recovered while showing fearlessness and grit in a hostile, intimidating environment. Each time after committing game-changing mistakes, Jones spit in the eye of unbelievers by following up his errors in judgment with touchdown drives.

The Auburn defense was among the best in the nation this season. No team had scored more than 23 points entering the Iron Bowl. Alabama, with their backup quarterback, almost doubled that number (45). Throw in a missed chip-shot field goal, a touchdown called back for holding and a pick-six at the one-yard line, and the case certainly could be made that a Mac Jones led offense could have hung 60 (actually 59) on the Tigers vaunted defense.

Jones was not the reason Alabama lost on Saturday. Neither was one of the most egregious violations of the spirit of the replay rule, which awarded Auburn with an additional three points at the half.

Alabama’s glaring weakness was a very mediocre defense, which failed to cover up their flaws with creative game plans. If Tosh Lupoi didn’t survive the Tide’s defensive implosion against Clemson in the 2018 National Championship (allowed 44 points and 482 total yards), then Pete Golding shouldn’t be granted back access to Alabama’s campus (allowed 34 points, 382 total yards and 5-13 on third-down).

A few significant questions face Nick Saban and the Tide heading into Bowl season. The first obvious one is whether Tua is coming back. If I put on my prognosticating cap, I would bet on him returning.

The first reason for Tua’s return would be to prove he can still play. I do not see an NFL team risking a first or second-round pick on a player coming off a dislocated hip. Even if Tua’s recovery and rehab go the best they could go, NFL teams will remember the way a hip injury ruined the career of the greatest athlete to come from the state of Alabama (Bo Jackson).

The second reason is that Tua needs to prove he can stay healthy for a full season. Despite video-game numbers in his time at Alabama, Tua has failed to complete a season while being the full-time starting QB.

Switching the narrative to Tua’s camp, losing the certainty of being a top-five pick (which he was projected to be entering this season), will cost him a huge payday. By showing the NFL that he still possesses 90 percent of his athleticism and all of his talent, Tua will quickly regain that top-five status, if not the first selection.

Robert Clay and Josh Snead, the creators of SEC Shorts always put out hysterical videos.


Let’s not pretend that my creative mind is anywhere near the brilliance of Saban’s. However, if I once again put on my prognostication cap, expect Saban to take a long look at defensive Jucos.

Alabama already has the second-best recruiting class for 2020, trailing only Clemson by a small margin. The number 3 (CB Nadab Joseph) Juco already has narrowed his choice to Alabama and an unknown. The number 4 (CB Brian George), 7 (S, Tray Bishop), and 8 (DT, Josh Ellison) are still undecided. Bringing in experienced defensive players will add to the Tide’s already impressive class of incoming freshman, returning players from injury and the youngsters that suffered through this season.

The bottom line for Alabama fans is that all is still well. Professor Nick is still running the show, and you also might get Tua back for another shot at the Heisman and a National Championship.

It’s A Michigan Problem, Not A Harbaugh Problem

NEW YORK, N.Y.- For fans of both Michigan and Ohio State, this past Saturday etched the latest chapter to a storied rivalry, although the result was all-too-familiar for Wolverine fans. The latest edition of “The Game” saw the Buckeyes run through Michigan 56-27. The result was a historical one for Jim Harbaugh, although not in a way Michigan fans would be proud of. Harbaugh’s career record against the school he is paid to beat is now 0-5, becoming the first coach on either side of this rivalry to lose their first five games.

The outgoing, brash head coach is being fairly criticized for talking a big game and not being able to back it up against the best competition. But the blame shouldn’t stop at Harbaugh. This problem goes beyond him and extends to the entire football program, athletics department and University.

Ohio State has made this anything but a rivalry, winning eight consecutive games and 15 of the last 16. The inability to beat their hated rival has been a problem for the maize and blue for almost two decades. The last four Michigan head coaches all have losing records against the Buckeyes, including the legendary Lloyd Carr. In fact, Gary Moeller was the last head coach to have a winning record against the scarlet and gray, going 3-1-1 from 1990-1994.

On the flip side, excluding Luke Fickell’s interim season, only one Ohio State coach since 1950 owns a losing record against “That Team Up North,” as John Cooper went a forgettable 2-10-1 from 1988-2000. In that same time frame, Michigan has had five coaches with losing records to Ohio State.

Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports

Both schools view this game as their Super Bowl. The difference is that Ohio State prepares for this game 24/7, 365, while Michigan prepares like it’s just another opponent. Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields, who’s brand new to this rivalry after transferring from Georgia, stated it best postgame when he said “I think we take this rivalry more serious than they do. I think it just means more at Ohio State.”

Herein lies the main issue at heart: There are more important things to Michigan than beating Ohio State in football. Striving to be the best public university in the nation is extremely important to Michigan. So is maintaining a pristine academic reputation. Beating Ohio State is up there, but not the biggest priority. This has allowed the Buckeyes to gain an upper hand in recruiting, which has been the biggest reason for the domination the last 25 years.

Harbaugh’s biggest flaw since taking over has been allowing the talent gap between the two schools to increase, as the Buckeyes have outclassed the Wolverines in every aspect the last few seasons. There should also be legitimate concern that the former Michigan quarterback is ignorant when it comes to recognizing the weaknesses of his team. When asked if there’s a talent, preparation or coaching gap between the two schools after Saturday’s game, Harbaugh responded by stating, “I’ll answer your questions, not your insults,” before crediting Ohio State for simply playing better.

Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports

The issue is right in Harbaugh’s answer, or should I say, lack there of. There is a legitimate gap in all three phases. Ohio State has nine more five-star and 11 more four-star recruits than their rival, something Michigan can’t allow to happen. This goes back to the buy-in, as the Buckeyes have used every resource possible to collect as much talent to Columbus.

Changes for Michigan need to start with recruiting, with efforts focused on building a team to specifically stop Ohio State. For years, the Wolverines have lacked defensive speed. This has to be an emphasis moving forward or else Michigan fans should get accustomed to crooked numbers being hung on the scoreboard.

While the outlook looks bleak for those in Ann Arbor, they have the ability to turn things around and become competitive with their biggest roadblock to the College Football Playoff. But it doesn’t start with Jim Harbaugh. It starts above him with the buy-in from the athletics department and administration to not only have this program continue to stay a consistent winner, but enter into that elite level that the Buckeyes have risen to since Urban Meyer was hired. If the buy-in isn’t there, then get used to having this conversation on the last Saturday in November for years to come.