A look at our Michigan records the past 40 years and where this season fits in that context:
YEAR Overall Big Ten Place OSU game Bowl game Coach
1979 8-4 (6-2) 3rd L L (Schembechler)
1980 10-2 (8-0) 1st W W (Schembechler)
1981 9-3 (6-3) 3rd L W (Schembechler)
1982 8-4 (8-1) 1st L L (Schembechler)
1983 9-3 (8-1) 2nd W L (Schembechler)
1984 6-6 (5-4) 6th L L (Schembechler)
1985 10-1-1 (6-1-1) 2nd W W (Schembechler)
1986 11-2 (7-1) T-1st W L (Schembechler)
1987 8-4 (5-3) 4th L W (Schembechler)
1988 9-2-1 (7-0-1) 1st W W (Schembechler)
1989 10-2 (8-0) 1st W L (Schembechler)
1990 9-3 (6-2) T-1st W W (Moeller)
1991 10-2 (8-0) 1st W L (Moeller)
1992 9-0-3 (6-0-2) 1st T W (Moeller)
1993 8-4 (5-3) 4th W W (Moeller)
1994 8-4 (5-3) 3rd L W (Moeller)
1995 9-4 (5-3) 3rd W L (Carr)
1996 8-4 (5-3) 5th W L (Carr)
1997 12-0 (8-0) 1st W W (Carr)
1998 10-3 (7-1) T-1st L W (Carr)
1999 10-2 (6-2) 2nd W W (Carr)
2000 9-3 (6-2) T-1st W W (Carr)
2001 8-4 (6-2) 2nd L L (Carr)
2002 10-3 (6-2) 3rd L W (Carr)
2003 10-3 (7-1) 1st W L (Carr)
2004 9-3 (7-1) T-1st L L (Carr)
2005 7-5 (5-3) 3rd L L (Carr)
2006 11-2 (7-1) 2nd L L (Carr)
2007 9-4 (6-2) 2nd L W (Carr)
2008 3-9 (2-6) 9th L -- (Rodriguez)
2009 5-7 (1-7) 10th L -- (Rodriguez)
2010 7-6 (3-5) 7th L L (Rodriguez)
2011 11-2 (6-2) 2nd (div.) W W (Hoke)
2012 8-5 (6-2) 2nd (div.) L L (Hoke)
2013 7-6 (3-5) 5th (div.) L L (Hoke)
2014 5-7 (3-5) 5th (div.) L -- (Hoke)
2015 10-3 (6-2) 3rd (div.) L W (Harbaugh)
2016 10-3 (7-2) 3rd (div.) L L (Harbaugh)
2017 8-5 (5-4) 4th (div.) L L (Harbaugh)
2018 10-2 (8-1) T1 (div.) L ? (Harbaugh)
-We are clearly a good program. Some are currently emoting and acting like we are something like Ole Miss historically. No we are not. We have 36 winning seasons in the last 40 years (and 46 in the last 50). We are not #1 all-time in wins because of what we did in the early 1900s. If that were all it took, Minnesota would still be up there.
-However, we tend to be more good than great. Others have reacted to the loss by painting a rosy picture of the 1969-2007 era, in which we supposedly were in national title contention every year. In fact, 2018 is only the 15th time in those 40 years we've won 10 games. Even if we ignore the Richrod/Hoke down period, we've done it only 14 of the other 33 years. True, teams didn't start regularly playing 13 games until this century, but in the last four decades it's never really been an annual thing to reach double digits in wins. Bo was probably fortunate that the 1981-84 stretch happened in the pre-internet age.
-It's really hard to go undefeated in the Big Ten. Only four times did we go unbeaten and untied in league play. Two other times we were undefeated with ties.
-Finishing with one conference loss (and no ties) generally wins you a share of the league (now division) title. This was the case five of the six years we've done that, excluding only 2006. We are in fact East division co-champs this year. You can scoff at that but if this were the pre-2011 era, we would be Big Ten champs right now and the guys would be getting 2018 championship rings next spring. The goal posts have moved in that regard.
-Jim Harbaugh has restored us to normalcy in every regard but one. That of course is the OSU record. Overall we went 16-23-1 against OSU in the last 40 years, so based on that, he should have one or two wins against them right now.
OTOH, it should be noted we were 10-2-1 against John Cooper and 1-0 against Luke Fickell. Harbaugh has not had luxury of coaching against those guys. We have gone 5-21 against Earle Bruce, Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. Yikes. (Thank goodness we had Harbaugh as a QB to go 2-0 in 1985 and '86.)
Urban Meyer is 81-9 (.900) as OSU's coach, which is incredible. That makes the 2016 Game all the more frustrating - we had them on the ropes. That sucks.
So what about yesterday's loss?
Well, it sucked. I guess you can point out that blowout losses are more frequent these days in general (Meyer's had three since January 2017) but it's still ugly. I'm shocked at how badly we were dominated at the line of scrimmage; to me that's the story. Our OL and DL were decisively outplayed by their counterparts and that really was it. That's disheartening considering that 1) we all thought our OL was vastly improved since the ND game and 2) we have one of our best DE pairings ever in Winovich and Gary (though neither was probably very healthy yesterday).
But in all honesty, most Michigan teams haven't done well against top 5-level teams not coached by John Cooper. Bo had a rough time in the Rose Bowl. Our 1991 team got embarrassed by FSU and Washington. Carr's teams got blown out by Tennessee in 2001 and repeatedly by Carroll's SC teams. We've had of course a lot of close games, too, such as the Rose Bowl against Texas or the ND games when Lou Holtz was there. But usually we've lost.
The problem is that with Meyer, a perennial top-5 team has taken residence in our conference. (The dirty secret is that the Big Ten has kind of sucked for most of the last 40 years, producing very few bona fide national title contenders.) It would be nice for us if Meyer would, in fact, retire and for OSU to hire a merely good coach to replace him.
In the meantime, Harbaugh has us basically back where we were in the pre-2008 era. That in itself is progress from where we were four years ago. Can we take the next step? That may require some self-inflicted help from OSU. They're certainly due for some bad luck.