Jim Harbaugh was once again unable to beat Ohio State, but that doesn’t mean the 2019 season hasn’t been fruitful for Michigan.

The Wolverines showed fight early and throughout the loss, but in the end it was another Michigan setback to Ohio State. Ryan Day and the Buckeyes crushed the Wolverines, 56-27, for their 15th victory in 16 years and eighth consecutive over Michigan. In five tries, Harbaugh remains winless against the Buckeyes.

It looked as if the Wolverines would be able to give the Buckeyes a 60-minute battle after they marched down the field on their first possession and Giles Jackson scored on a 22-yard scamper to complete a 7-play, 75-yard drive to take a 6-0 lead. The Buckeyes responded, though, with a 75-yard drive of their own and took a 7-6 advantage when J.K. Dobbins scored from 5 yards out.

Back-to-back punts and a Shea Patterson fumble deep in Ohio State territory on a potential game-tying touchdown drive marred Michigan’s first half, and it had to settle for a field goal at the end of the second quarter to cap a 70-yard drive that cut the deficit to 28-16. Would the Wolverines have been better off passing up the 3 and going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 5? Likely. But they also would have been better off not giving up touchdowns on four of Ohio State’s five first-half drives.

Simply put, the Buckeyes overwhelmed the Wolverines like they have overwhelmed every other opponent this season.

The floodgates opened when the Buckeyes started the second half with a 6-play, 75-yard touchdown drive and added an 80-yard drive shortly thereafter that ended with 7 points and a 42-16 lead. The Wolverines battled and cut the deficit to 42-27, but they were unable to get any closer as the Buckeyes added two more touchdowns to surpass the 50-point mark against the Wolverines once again.

After playing a very strong first half, Patterson really struggled over the final 30 minutes. The former Ole Miss Rebel, playing in his final game in Ann Arbor, went 14 of 19 through the air for 250 yards and a touchdown in the first two quarters, looking as comfortable as he ever has in the Josh Gattis offense. But the Buckeyes ramped up the defensive intensity over the final two quarters, forcing Patterson into a brutal 4-of-24 passing line for 55 yards and an interception.

Having a dynamic and consistent signal-caller to run this offense will be priority number one for Harbaugh each and every season. Going back to the drawing board for a scheme to even contain the Buckeyes offense will be priority number one for coordinator Don Brown.

Simply put, for Michigan to be able to compete and really threaten Ohio State, Harbaugh and his staff need to recruit bigger, faster and stronger players each cycle. The Wolverines have fared well in recruiting, and Harbaugh has set up satellite camps across the country and has even gone overseas. But perhaps snagging an extra five-star recruit here and there will make a difference. Because the Buckeyes are simply a healthier program right now and not going anywhere any time soon under the 40-year-old Day, who is now 15-0 as a head coach.

But for those who don’t think that Harbaugh is the answer, who is? Which coach would be able to beat this Ohio State team? Outside of Urban Meyer, probably not many others.

We know that in Ann Arbor it will always be about beating Ohio State, and rightfully so. The problem for Harbaugh is that he needs to be able to consistently win the other big games to have the Wolverines in Rose Bowl and College Football Playoff consideration year in and year out. Consistency is key.

It just so happens that Harbaugh has had the misfortune of going up against incredibly good — incredibly good — Ohio State teams, particularly the last two seasons. Squads that were led by Dwayne Haskins and Justin Fields, two players that had exceptional campaigns. Maybe in time Harbaugh can get the Michigan program to be as incredibly good, and maybe he won’t. But he certainly should continue to be given that time.

Harbaugh’s $7.504 million salary this year demands that he do better against Ohio State, but his won-loss record remains good enough that he should be allowed to see his vision through as he continues to stabilize the program that he came home to after leaving the NFL.

The way the offense has played over the course of the second half of the season, Michigan would have been able to score enough points to beat Wisconsin early in the season. Also, that offense could have defeated Penn State if it had played like it did in the second half for the entire game against the Nittany Lions. The key now is for Harbaugh, who was able to beat Notre Dame and Michigan State this season, to make sure the team’s strong second half this season carries over into the bowl game, 2020 and beyond.

The Wolverines haven’t been competitive with the Buckeyes the last two years, and that certainly needs to change. As long as the Buckeyes maintain this level of consistent play, it will be tough for the Wolverines to win the Big Ten for this first time since 2004. But, Harbaugh can win 10 games again if Michigan is successful in its bowl game. And while many Wolverine fans will dismiss the feat, there aren’t a ton of coaches consistently doing it.