TheMaizeAndBlueReview - By The Numbers: Saturday Was The Eighth-Best Rushing Output Under Harbaugh
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By The Numbers: Saturday Was The Eighth-Best Rushing Output Under Harbaugh

The Michigan Wolverines' football team finally got its ground game on track last Saturday at Illinois, compiling a season-high 295 yards while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

The Maize and Blue had only been averaging 129.2 yards on the ground through the club's first five games, and had surpassed 141 yards in just one contest (233 in the season-opening win over Middle Tennessee State).

Redshirt freshman running back Hassan Haskins led the way against the Illini with 125 yards and a touchdown, while freshman running back Zach Charbonnet chipped in 116 yards and a score of his own.

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Michigan Wolverines football redshirt freshman running back Hassan Haskins' 7.3 yards per carry lead the team this season, while his 189 rushing yards check in second.
Michigan Wolverines football redshirt freshman running back Hassan Haskins' 7.3 yards per carry lead the team this season, while his 189 rushing yards check in second. (AP Images)

Outstanding ground efforts have led to high levels of success during head coach Jim Harbaugh's tenure at Michigan (since 2015), with Saturday's performance actually checking in as the eighth-best rushing total under his tutelage, and the 16th time overall that his club had rushed for at least 250 yards in a game.

All 16 of those contests have also shared one key element: U-M is undefeated in each of them.

Every Time Michigan has Rushed for at Least 250 Yards in a Game Under Harbaugh
Year Game Rushing Yards Yards per Carry Rushing TDs Result

2016

at Rutgers

486

9.2

9

W, 78-0

2017

Minnesota

371

10

4

W, 33-10

2017

Rutgers

334

6.5

4

W, 35-14

2016

Penn State

326

6.7

6

W, 49-10

2018

Wisconsin

320

6.7

3

W, 38-13

2018

Western Michigan

308

8.8

3

W, 49-3

2016

Hawaii

306

7.8

4

W, 63-3

2019

at Illinois

295

6.1

3

W, 42-25

2018

Nebraska

285

6.3

4

W, 56-10

2016

Maryland

273

7

5

W, 59-3

2017

at Indiana

271

6.2

3

W, 27-20

2016

Illinois

270

4.6

3

W, 41-8

2018

Penn State

259

5

3

W, 42-7

2018

Indiana

257

5.1

1

W, 31-20

2015

UNLV

254

6.5

3

W, 28-7

2015

BYU

254

5

3

W, 31-0

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Not only has Michigan consistently beat its opponents when it has success running the ball, but it usually obliterates them.

Only one of the 16 games on the list above was decided by single digits (the 27-20 overtime victory at Indiana in 2017), while nine of them were determined by at least 30 points.

The Wolverines have also shown an ability to pick up yards on the ground in chunks in the victories listed above, averaging at least 6.1 yards per carry in all but four of them.

Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is that almost all of U-M's best rushing outputs under Harbaugh have occurred in Ann Arbor, with the 2016 affair at Rutgers, the 2017 showdown at Indiana and last Saturday's win at Illinois being the lone exceptions.

It's worth noting, though, that the Scarlet Knights' 2016 run defense finished 126th in the nation, the Hoosiers' 2017 crew concluded at 61st and the Illini's current unit stands at 107th after seven weeks.

Why the Maize and Blue haven't been able to consistently establish excellent rushing outputs on the road in recent years remains a mystery, though it doesn't seem likely they'll buck that trend on Saturday when considering how Penn State's defensive front has performed this season.

The Nittany Lions' run defense currently ranks third in the country in yards allowed per game (53.8) and first in yards per carry (1.5), and has held five of its six opponents to 70 rushing yards or fewer (including a season-best minus-19 against Purdue Oct. 5).

By The Numbers: Michigan at Penn State

3.5 Sacks per game for the Michigan defense this season (including 12 in its last two games), which is tied for 12th best in all of college football. Junior defensive end Kwity Paye and senior linebacker Josh Uche are both tied for the team lead, with 4.5 apiece.

4 Miles-per-hour wind gusts projected for Saturday night in Happy Valley, which is a far cry from the 20 miles-per-hour breeze U-M and Illinois played in last weekend in Champaign. Game-time temperatures at Beaver Stadium are expected to be in the 40s with only a 10 percent chance of precipitation.

13 Touchdown passes for PSU redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford this season, which are the third most in the Big Ten behind Ohio State sophomore Justin Fields' 18 and Minnesota redshirt sophomore Tanner Morgan's 14. U-M senior Shea Patterson's nine, meanwhile, are tied for seventh in the league.

34.3 Has been the average margin of victory for the winner in each of the last three meetings between the two teams, with Michigan beating Penn State 49-10 in 2016 and 42-7 last season, while PSU took down U-M 42-13 in 2017. The home team won each contest.

37.6 Rushing yards per contest the Wolverines' defense has allowed over its last three outings in wins over Rutgers, Iowa and Illinois. All of this comes after the unit surrendered 359 yards on the ground in the Sept. 21 loss at Wisconsin.

40th & 43rd Is where PSU's rookie running back tandem of Devyn Ford and Noah Cain ranked nationally out of high school according to Rivals.com, respectively, with both of them just missing five-star status. The duo has lived up to the hype so far, with Cain's 310 yards leading the team and Ford's 215 checking in fourth.

376 Total rushing yards for U-M running back Zach Charbonnet, which are the most in the Big Ten among freshmen.

2015 Was the last time U-M won in Happy Valley, grabbing a 28-16 victory there on the Nittany Lions' annual white-out contest (though it was a noon kick). A stifling Wolverine defense held PSU to just 207 yards of offense and sacked quarterback Christian Hackenberg four times.

2018 Was the last time U-M beat an Associated Press top-25 team on the road, when it won at then-No. 24 Michigan State on Oct. 20. The Wolverines have lost their last two road affairs to ranked foes since then (at No. 10 Ohio State last year and at No. 13 Wisconsin this season), and will be looking to beat an AP top-10 team in its home stadium for the first time since winning 47-21 at No. 2 Notre Dame in 2006.

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