A Jim Harbaugh commercial hawking fabric softener played in regular rotation Saturday afternoon.
Talk about bad product placement.
What Michigan football doesn't need at the moment is a comparison to Downy's fluffy softness. But if the label fits …
Harbaugh's No. 11 Michigan was a no-show Saturday at No. 13 Wisconsin. Again. Worse than that, the Wolverines got pushed around. Again. This time in a .
Michigan football has gotten worse lately, slowly and steadily, but also certainly. Since the 2018 Ohio State game, the Wolverines are 0-3 against Power Five competition having been outscored 138-68. That's not counting the overtime escape against Army.
Michigan has found a new ceiling under Harbaugh. It's quite low considering the expectations. It seems every time the Wolverines go up against a team of substance, they struggle.
The matchup was actually good for Michigan going into the game. Wisconsin is a physical, powerful program. Michigan at least fancies itself that way.
Turns out Paul Chryst and the Badgers could have told the Wolverines what was coming and still prospered. That's because Michigan basically did know what was coming. Heisman Trophy candidate and All-American Jonathan Taylor had 143 yards rushing … in the first quarter. He finished with 203, and if not for cramps that kept him out of the second quarter, might have gone for 300.
Paraphrasing CBS Sports HQ anchor Erik Kuselias: Wisconsin had better players. Wisconsin had better coaches. Wisconsin had better assistants. Wisconsin had better water. Wisconsin had better fans. Wisconsin had better beer.
This result has to further chip away at the Harbaugh reputation.
"Outplayed and outcoached," Michigan's coach said afterward. "It was thorough."
So, the Maize and Blue faithful might shout back, "What are you going to do about it?
This is a coach who led not only by intellect but by charisma, knowledge and grit.
Saturday's 35-14 defeat is becoming a habit. Michigan was bullied, and not too many eyebrows were raised this time. Maybe that's the saddest part three games into Harbaugh's fifth season.
The program doesn't have an identity except that, lately, it fails on the largest stages. It isn't particularly physical. It isn't disciplined, given the seven fumbles lost to date. (There were only three fumbles lost last season.)
Wisconsin was up 35-0 before Michigan responded with a couple of garbage-time touchdowns.
Look, Harbaugh's job isn't in danger because Harbaugh won't let his job be in danger. If the walls continue to close in, he'll likely leave well before Michigan gets around to firing him.
But that creates an even more frightening prospect. If the ultimate Michigan Man can't turn things around, where do the Wolverines turn?
Michigan hasn't won a Big Ten title since 2004. This year's incoming freshmen were just touching kindergarten back then.
There was a magic wand to be waved here. In Harbaugh's fifth season, no amount of satellite camps, spring trips to Europe or shots at Urban Meyer are going to help.
You know the career summary: Harbaugh has yet to win so much as a division as a major-college head coach. In his ninth year leading a Power Five program, it looks like that streak will continue.
But he's also won at least 10 games in three of his first four Michigan seasons. That counts for something.
Still, Michigan was supposed to step in as the new Big Ten favorite with Meyer leaving Ohio State. Instead, it looks like Wisconsin remains that primary competition. Last year's 8-5 mark looks like a mere hiccup for the Badgers, who had played in five of the last seven Big Ten Championship Games.
Chryst recruits to his state's strengths -- big, beefy linemen who carve holes for the run and stop the it on the other side of the ball. Taylor looks like he's well on his way to becoming the NCAA career leading rusher. At halftime, Wisconsin had become the first team in 15 years not to allow a point in the first 10 quarters of the season. It held opponents scoreless this season for 162:52 until Michigan finally found the end zone.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines have come a long way (down) from Harbaugh's reaction to his team being the Big Ten preseason favorite. "I think that's right where we should be," he said.
Shea Patterson is a good, not great, quarterback. It won't matter if the offensive line continues to struggle. Michigan's line came into the game tied for 99th in sack rate. It allowed two more sacks Saturday despite the return of Jon Runyan Jr. from injury.
Michigan's receivers are a resilient bunch, but the Program That Bo Built just doesn't have enough athletes. It lacks team speed. Wisconsin was the latest big-time program to exploit those areas.
Where it goes from here will be played out in Big Ten time. Iowa comes to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in two weeks. There are trips to Penn State and (yes) Maryland. The season concludes with Ohio State at home.
Prognosticators, media and maybe a few Michigan players had already concluded Harbaugh would finally break through against the Buckeyes.
It sure doesn't look like it.