Jim Harbaugh gets crushed for baffling 58-yard field goal attempt
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is 0-7 as an underdog as the head coach of the Wolverines. Saturday’s game at Penn State was following the trend, and he did himself no favors with a key decision late in the first half.
Stalled at the Penn State 41 and facing a 4th and 6 with 51 seconds left, Harbaugh inexplicably sent out his field goal team to try a 58-yarder. Michigan was already down two touchdowns at this point. Though kicker Jake Moody had missed only one attempt on the season, his longest make was from 43 yards.
Predictably, Moody missed, giving Penn State the ball at their own 41 with 51 seconds left and all three timeouts. Twitter immediately went in on Harbaugh for his bizarre decision.
That was as strange as South Carolina's 57-yarder last week, except with nowhere near as much upside.
— Noah Trister (@noahtrister) October 20, 2019
Not sure the idea behind that. Go for it.
— Aaron McMann (@AaronMcMann) October 20, 2019
Wth 56 seconds left and down 21-7, #Michigan just tried a 58-yard field goal.
It missed, well short.
And guess what? #PennState gets the ball at its own 41 with plenty of time to march it down.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 20, 2019
Insanely terrible call. Punt the ball.
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) October 20, 2019
Dumb decision by Harbaugh. Punt, get to halftime still sort of in the game. Now you give PSU a chance to end it before the half. #MICHvsPSU
— Nathan Birr (@atruebluehusker) October 20, 2019
College kickers aren’t going to be trusted to make 58-yard field goals. If Harbaugh didn’t care about field position, he should have gone for it. Better yet, he probably should’ve punted, gone into the half down 21-7, and tried to pull it together at the break. Fortunately for him, Penn State didn’t score on the ensuing drive, so it didn’t actually cost him.
Harbaugh will need a big second half rally to avoid dropping to 0-8 as an underdog with the Wolverines. It’s pretty clear that his job is safe, but decisions like this aren’t going to help his standing among fans.