ANN ARBOR — It was not nearly as profound, nor explicit, but Karan Higdon said Monday he was willing follow his head coach some 30-plus years ago.
The senior running back guaranteed victory for the fourth-ranked Wolverines on Saturday, when they travel to Columbus for their regular-season finale against Ohio State (noon, FOX).
“Yeah, I do,” Higdon said Monday during the team’s weekly news conference. “I do. That’s how I feel.
“I believe firmly in my brothers, and his team and this coaching staff. And as a captain, I’ll take that stand. Why not?”
The proclamation came in response to a reporter’s question to Higdon, asking if he was willing to replicate Jim Harbaugh’s infamous 1986 guarantee. Then, Harbaugh — without prompt — guaranteed a Michigan victory over Ohio State and trip to the Rose Bowl.
Both followed, of course.
This time, though, it’s not as clear cut. A win over the Buckeyes — which Michigan has been without since 2012 — would send the Wolverines to the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 1. It would also position them nicely for a berth into the four-team College Football Playoff.
“It’s a must-win,” Higdon said. “We’ve got some lofty goals that we set out for ourselves early on. They’re a team that’s going to stand in our way to achieve them.
“We’ve got to knock them down.”
While both teams enter Saturday’s game with identical 10-1 records, the trajectory has been very different. Michigan has rattled off 10 straight wins after a season-opening loss at Notre Dame, including pivotal road victories over Big Ten West champion Northwestern and Michigan State.
Ohio State, the defending Big Ten champions, has shown some cracks in recent weeks. The 10th-ranked Buckeyes lost, 49-20, to Purdue on Oct 20, narrowly beat Nebraska the following week and, on Saturday, edged Maryland, 52-51, in overtime.
Michigan enters the Saturday as a four-point favorite, despite losing six straight games to Ohio State and having not won a football in Columbus, Ohio, since 2000.
“It’s a different game. This isn’t a typical regular-season game,” Higdon said. “This is the game that (turns) everything up to a whole different level. They’re going to bring their best game and we’ve got to bring our best game.”