Harbaugh Weekly: Steak special, with plenty of Peppers

It’s a bye week for Michigan. And a buy week for carnivorous Michigan fans.

They’re all headed to the Ann Arbor Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which is offering a percentage discount that’s equal to the Wolverines’ margin of victory.

That will not be 78 percent even though Michigan, um, slaughtered Rutgers 78-0 on Saturday. The restaurant at least had the foresight to cap the promotion at 50 percent.

Don’t try to get a table this week, though. The restaurant is booked.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

How bad was the 78-0 massacre?

Jim Harbaugh apologized to Rutgers coach Chris Ash during the post-game handshake, saying he wasn’t trying to run up the score.

``I know. That’s OK,’’ Ash replied.

Bear in mind, though, that the first-year Scarlet Knights coach’s previous job was. . . co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State.

Let’s see how things go when D.J. Durkin, another first-year coach, brings Maryland to Michigan on Nov. 5. Durkin was Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator last year.

Of course, Maryland isn’t nearly as bad as Rutgers. Nobody in the Big Ten is. Well, we’ll find that out on Saturday, when the the Scarlet Knights play Illinois.


At this point, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson looks like the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett also in the discussion.

Houston’s loss won’t help QB Greg Ward Jr. Nor will Stanford’s sagging fortunes help RB Christian McCaffrey, who’s also banged up.

The dark horse is Michigan’s all-purpose whiz Jabrill Peppers. Harbaugh is giving Peppers, who's primarily a defender, opportunities on all three sides of the ball.

Peppers ran for two touchdowns and 74 yards on three carries at Rutgers, had two tackles and a quarterback hurry on defense, and had a nice punt return called back due to penalty.

That all came in the first half, when Michigan was building a 43-0 lead.

Harbaugh is talking Peppers up nicely, too.

``There’s nothing he can’t do,’’ Harbaugh said. ``It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. In my humble opinion, I think we’re looking at a Heisman Trophy winner, and candidate.’’

There’s even a precedent. The only primarily-defensive player to win the Heisman was Charles Woodson, from Michigan, in 1997.

``Gosh, if there’s a better player in the country, I don’t know who it is,’’ Harbaugh said. ``To be able to coach a guy like Jabrill Peppers is a real joy. There’s so much more. He can throw the ball.’’

Searching for a comparable player, Harbaugh found one: ``Maybe Jim Thorpe. Maybe that would be a good comparison. Just came to mind. The great Jim Thorpe. I think you could put Jabrill on that dance floor.’’

No doubt, Peppers would need a lot of momentum to win the Heisman. But don’t rule it out.

College football’s premier award has become a winner deal. If the QBs lose a game here or there, it’s possible. And Peppers obviously will have a head-to-head opportunity vs. Barrett.

Most importantly, Michigan provides the kind of high-profile platform for a Heisman candidate who defies the usual quarterback/running back tradition.

In 1987, I covered Heisman winner Tim Brown, a wide receiver/kick returner at Notre Dame, another school where Heisman magic can happen.

That team went 8-3 in the regular season, including losses to Penn State and Miami in its last two games.

Can you imagine a wide receiver winning the Heisman today when his team loses its last two games?

No way.

Not even Jim Harbaugh could pull that off.[/membership]