Google the offensive highlights from Jim Harbaugh's years as coach at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers, then overlay that on what Michigan has done in this, his first season as Wolverines coach.

Google the offensive highlights from Jim Harbaugh's years as coach at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers, then overlay that on what Michigan has done in this, his first season as Wolverines coach.

It's not identical, but there are some clear identifying Harbaugh fingerprints: physical play by the line; a lot of two-tight-end, one-back power formations with the quarterback under center; shotgun spread formations; heavy play-action when passing; and passing more than one would expect.

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But always there is the understanding that the Wolverines are going to try to strike a physical blow on every play.

"That's kind of what we look forward to," Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry said.

Perry is a captain of an Ohio State team smarting from its first loss since the second game of last season. It was a period of time in which the Buckeyes won 23 straight games and the first College Football Playoff national title. The Buckeyes were ranked third in the playoff rankings before a 17-14 loss to Michigan State.

But turn on the Michigan highlights from this season, and Perry and his defensive teammates know that the Wolverines under Harbaugh have the intent to hit them in the mouth when they meet on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

They feature a power running game, a passing game directed by quarterback Jake Rudock - an Iowa transfer - and have increased their efficiency as the season has rolled along. The Wolverines offense is epitomized by tight end Jake Butt, a Pickerington North graduate who not only is a stout blocker but also is the team's second-leading receiver with 43 catches for 566 yards and three touchdowns.

"Some of the teams kind of make you play basketball (on grass) a little bit and want to spread it out," Perry said. "These guys, they're going to play some real football. I think it's going to be good for us, and we'll have a good game plan and prepare the right way for that."

Under Harbaugh, it's not just what the Wolverines do schematically on offense that has made a difference, it's how they do it. OSU defensive end Joey Bosa expected as much when Michigan hired Harbaugh.

"I think it's like bringing in someone like coach (Urban) Meyer into a program, bringing in someone who knows how to win, knows how to play tough," Bosa said. "He has done a great job getting those guys ready to play, and they are 100 percent going to be ready when we play them."

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio also did a nice job of preparing his Spartans for the challenge of taking on the Ohio State defense last week. They kept chopping away with the running game until it finally paid off in the fourth quarter with drives to a tying touchdown and then the winning field goal on the last play of the game.

The Spartans, who topped 200 yards rushing, were able to control the line of scrimmage and get linemen in the face of the OSU linebackers, something the Wolverines no doubt will try to duplicate.

"That will be our big (focus): change the line of scrimmage, push the line of scrimmage backwards and let our linebackers run and make plays," Buckeyes defensive tackle Tommy Schutt said. "It will be a physical week for sure, and we're looking forward to the game."

There's still a lot at stake for the Buckeyes, who could make the Big Ten title game for a third straight year with a combination of a win at Michigan and a loss by Michigan State to Penn State later in the day. And then, Perry said, there is the chance for the fourth-year seniors to go out having never lost to Michigan.

"I told my parents after last week's game: What's really going to make me feel better is getting that fourth pair of gold pants," Perry said. "That's the mission for me right now, and I know it's a goal for a lot of the seniors, a goal for a lot of the guys around here, just finish it off the right way."

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports