Pat Caputo: Brass ring there for Michigan

Timing is everything, and Michigan’s 42-27 rout of Ohio State Saturday came just in the nick of time.

It can’t be said any more that Jim Harbaugh’s program doesn’t ever win big games. It doesn’t get much larger than throttling a domineering rival ranked second in the nation.

It can’t be stated the Wolverines never win as an underdog under Harbaugh. They routed Wisconsin under such a circumstance earlier in the season, too.

The loss to Michigan State, painful as it was at the time, has been numbed to a large degree.

It’s a slippery slope, though. Michigan is a loss away to Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game from chants of overrated again.

But don’t expect that. The Hawkeyes are, at best, solid. The Wolverines proved Saturday they are better than that.

Michigan beat Ohio State the old-fashioned way, upfront on both sides of the ball.

The Wolverines have had better individual talent on their offensive line, but seldom a unit that has played as well together.

Running back Hassan Haskins is stronger than a locomotive and leaps defenders in a single bound. He is one of the most underrated players in the country.

End Aiden Hutchinson is a wrecking ball on the defensive side of the ball along the lines of the Bosa and Watts’ brothers, and Chase Young. The Lions should strongly consider Hutchinson in the first round of the NFL Draft, even if it is with the first overall selection.

Harbaugh was in a tenuous situation. A 10-2 season would not have been acceptable if it included losses to both MSU and OSU.

Of course, an even more definitive sign of arrival for Harbaugh’s program in its seventh year would be the Wolverines’ first Big Ten title since 2004.

And this is an ideal year to be included in the College Football Playoff. Georgia is loaded with overall talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but the Bulldogs don’t feature an elite quarterback. Alabama is not as imposing as usual. Clemson was eliminated from CFP consideration long ago. Michigan essentially wiped out the Buckeyes.

There is a brass ring there for the taking. It’s within reach for the Wolverines. They might well as grab it instead of letting it slip through their fingers.