Michigan shut Rutgers out and scored 11 touchdowns. Normally that would make the final score 77-0, but this time around, it was 78-0, because Jim Harbaugh had his team run a fake extra point to turn a 27-0 lead into a 29-0 lead.
It’s possible the team audibled into this on the field due to the way Rutgers lined up, or because of a bad snap, but it really doesn’t look like it. The Scarlet Knights are in a pretty conventional FG block set-up, and the snap looked fine. This really seems like an intentionally called fake.
Last year, Harbaugh had some justification for why he went for two, saying the difference between being up 25 and 26 wasn’t that big a deal, and that it was significantly more valuable to be up 27. The math checks out, even if it was unlikely that Rutgers managed three touchdowns, three two-point conversions, and a field goal.
This year, Harbaugh doesn’t have that argument. Being up four touchdowns is fine. Being up 28 points is fine, and leading by 29 points really isn’t worth the risk of missing. I can’t imagine any strategic benefit to going for two up 27 points.
If Harbaugh went for two up 27-0, there was more malice involved than strategy. It wouldn’t be the first time: Harbaugh famously made Stanford go for two points up 48-21 on a USC squad he disliked, leading to Pete Carroll asking“WHAT’S YOUR DEAL?” during post-game handshakes.
It’s weird that Michigan and Rutgers don’t like each other: They’re hundreds of miles apart, and even farther apart in terms of football prowess. But if Harbaugh keeps on being Harbaugh, that hate will grow.