For Jim Harbaugh, the satisfaction of beating Ohio State wasn't in silencing his critics -- even if he allowed himself a jab at Ryan Day. It was in seeing his players and the Michigan fanbase overcome with joy.
"To see everybody so happy, I remember Bo Schembechler’s quote, ‘Every man on the Michigan football team owes it to every person in the state of Michigan to beat Ohio State.' To have done that for our state and for our town and for our university, it’s a tremendous feeling and one that our players said, ‘This is the best moment of their lives.' Aidan said that, and I’m right there with him. The kind of stuff you’re going to remember until they throw dirt on top of you," Harbaugh told the Stoney & Jansen Show.
And in the days following Michigan's first win over the Buckeyes in a decade, more satisfaction for Harbaugh has arrived through the mail.
"The other thing that’s been super satisfying -- I mean, great -- is the letters. We’re getting so many letters, hundreds, from all different generations. But the ones that played in or were there for the ‘69 game and they talk about that game from 50 years ago reminding them of this game -- as a kid growing up in the ‘70’s, the ‘69 game was The ‘69 Game. To have people equate that with our football team and what they felt at the ‘69 game and what they felt at the ‘21 game, that’s pretty cool," Harbaugh said.
Ohio State came to Michigan Stadium in 1969 as the No. 1 team in the nation and rulers of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes had hung 50 on the Wolverines in a blowout at Ohio Stadium the year prior. They were expected to win rather easily again. But No. 12 Michigan, in its first season under Schembechler, sprung the upset for its first win over Ohio State at the Big House in a decade. And so the 'Ten-Year War' was born.
The Wolverines won that day with their defense, holding the Buckeyes to 12 points. 52 years later, their defense came through again. Ohio State averaged barely two yards per carry and quarterback C.J. Stroud was sacked a season-high four times, three times by Hutchinson, in Michigan's 42-27 win. It was a credit to defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Harbaugh said.
"We knew that the defense was going to have to give a different look to the quarterback and to the sideline and to the press box, because Ohio State does a great job of trying to assess what you’re in and then they look over to the sideline and either change the play or keep the play on. So it was going to be really important to give them different looks. Mike Macdonald did a tremendous job of leaving doubt in their mind as to what we were doing, what we were in. Were we blitzing, were we not? Were we in man, were we in zone? Is it a 2-high defense, is it 1-high defense? That was big."
And on offense, Michigan got a big drive whenever it needed one, leaning on its maulers up front.
"As good as I’ve seen an offensive line play in a college football game," said Harbaugh. "You talk about intensity down after down no matter what happened the previous play. You talk about playing with joy and gusto, and playing loose but playing smart. Just really doing their job."