College football history is on the line and very likely to happen Saturday at College Park when No. 3 Michigan visits unranked Maryland in Big Ten action. Michigan is a 19-point favorite on the SportsLine consensus and should become the first school in Division I history to reach 1,000 all-time victories. The Wolverines will have to accomplish that for a second straight week without head coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for three games in the wake of the program's sign-stealing scandal ahead of last week's huge matchup at No. 10 Penn State. The team rallied around its missing leader with hugely impressive 24-15 victory to stay unbeaten and control its destiny to reach a third straight Big Ten Championship Game and third straight College Football Playoff. Harbaugh has always denied knowing anything about the sign-stealing, and the school tried to get a restraining order to allow Harbaugh to coach against the Nittany Lions but ran out of time.
Harbaugh made the trip to State College with the team, learning of the suspension after the traveling party landed at the airport. He watched from the team hotel. There was to be a court hearing Friday on that TRO, but it will not be held. Michigan and Harbaugh issued a statement that he will accept the three games – meaning he will miss the showdown with Ohio State next Saturday, which frankly is the biggest story here. Officially per the Washtenaw County courthouse, the school and Harbaugh voluntarily dismissed their complaint against the Big Ten.
"This morning, the university, Coach Harbaugh, and the Big Ten resolved their pending litigation. The Conference agreed to close its investigation, and the university and Coach Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension," the statement read. "Coach Harbaugh, with the University's support, decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field. … The conference has confirmed that it is not aware of any information suggesting Coach Harbaugh's involvement in the allegations. The University continues to cooperate fully with the NCAA's investigation."
Michigan is 4-0 without Harbaugh this season as he also was suspended the first three games of the regular season as a response to a separate NCAA investigation into recruiting violations. Harbaugh will be allowed to coach at practice this week and next, but will not be on the sideline for the Maryland or Ohio State games. Michigan rotated interim head coaches in the first three games, but offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore coached against Penn State and will stay in that role for the rest of the regular season.
Note that this agreement only ends the Big Ten's probe and not the NCAA's into the sign-stealing issue.
From a betting standpoint, this news won't shift the odds, but Michigan was incredibly run-heavy last Saturday against a Penn State defense that was ranked No. 1 against the run but was nonetheless gashed 227 yards on the ground. The Wolverines attempted just 13 passes and completed six for 60 yards. Expect more of that against a mediocre Terrapins defense if you play college football props or DFS.
Michigan's all-time record is 999-353-36. It has won 26 consecutive regular season games, tied for the third-longest stretch in Big Ten history, and has won 10 straight road games, the longest streak for the Wolverines since 1945-48. Michigan's 22-game conference winning streak is a program record.
The Maryland matchup represents a trap game of sorts. With the team fresh off that big Penn State win and facing the home finale next Saturday against the No. 2 Buckeyes, Michigan's focus could be elsewhere on Saturday. The Wolverines are -6.5 on the lookahead lines against the Buckeyes. The winner of that game will win the Big Ten East and most likely face Iowa in the conference title game. Incidentally, Ohio State is No. 2 all-time in wins with 963.
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