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Comparing James Franklin, Jim Harbaugh Ahead Of The 2019 White Out

Two coaches with very impressive resumes and a ton of pressure to succeed will go head-to-head Saturday night when No. 7 Penn State football takes on the 16th-ranked Michigan Wolverines. The winner of this match-up between James Franklin and Jim Harbaugh will decide who will become the active wins leader among coaches in the Big Ten since 2015.

Franklin has an overall record of 51-21 as Penn State’s head coach. He started out his tenure with looming recruiting restrictions and was charged with getting the program back in the national spotlight as one of college football’s top teams.

The job he’s done so far off the field shouldn’t go unnoticed, as he’s avoided most big controversies and developed a great relationship with alumni and the fanbase. On the field, Franklin has led his team to a 6-0 record this season and had Penn State ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for 48 straight weeks, which is the fifth-longest streak in college football.

Franklin has won about 71% of his games in his time at Penn State, but he’s gone 1-3 against Harbaugh and 2-9 against top-10 teams. He picked up his first road win against a ranked team last week against Iowa, which improved his record in such games to 1-6.

Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh is the face of the Michigan football program, and has been the most successful coach in Ann Arbor since Lloyd Carr’s departure following the 2007 season. While many see him as an underachiever, Harbaugh has turned Michigan back into a consistently winning program. The Wolverines have been ranked in the AP Top 25 for 24 consecutive weeks, which is the ninth-longest streak in the nation. Harbaugh has gone 43-15 in his five-plus years as the Wolverines’ head coach, but he’s 1-9 against top 10 teams and 1-6 in games against ranked opponents away from home.

Franklin has done a couple of things that Harbaugh has yet to achieve. He’s won a Big Ten championship and a New Year’s Six Bowl game on top of beating Ohio State. However, the two coaches’ head-to-head match-up is a bit of a different story.

Harbaugh is 3-1 against Franklin since taking over as Michigan’s head coach. Franklin’s one victory over Harbaugh and the Wolverines, however, was a 42-13 blowout in the 2017 White Out game.

CBS Sports released its top-25 ranking of college football’s coaches entering the 2019 season back in May. Franklin was ranked as the eleventh-best coach, and he was the highest-ranked head coach in the Big Ten on the list. Harbaugh was not far behind at No. 15, which was two spots below Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Harbaugh spoke to ESPN last year about his intentions to stay at Michigan for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Franklin said that he’s turned down NFL offers to remain as Penn State’s head coach — a job he described as his “calling.” With both coaches seemingly intending to become long-term fixtures at their respective programs, this will most likely not be the last time these two face each other.

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