The senior running back, when told how Harbaugh guaranteed a win over the Buckeyes in 1986, was asked if he’d like to make a similar guarantee. He paused a bit before saying he believed in teammates enough to take that stand.
It was a far cry from the unsolicited, brash guarantee Harbaugh issued after U-M’s loss to Minnesota a week before The Game.
“I totally agree … I didn’t think much of the way the interviewer was interviewing him,” Harbaugh said when a reporter suggested Higdon had been baited. “Karan was saying was he was confident, believes in his teammates. He is real genuine.
“I thought the reporter was pretty silly with his ‘do you guarantee?’ But Karan is our captain, one of our brothers. He’s ready to go to battle.”
So, too, is junior quarterback Shea Patterson. Quarterback play has often been the difference between winning and losing this battle, and OSU has gotten the better of U-M at the position for much of the last 15 years. Patterson enters with great confidence and has not been intimidated in big games.
“He’s been tremendous in all ways,” Harbaugh said. “He gets it done. Whatever you ask him to do, he executes it and does it at a really high level, whether it’s ball handling, play calling, throwing from the pocket … his play action fakes are crisp, his throws are accurate, his out of pocket throws are really good, sensational even. He’s got the ability and got that ‘win it’ factor that I believe some athletes and competitors have more than others.
“I can’t say enough good things about him, he’s just a terrific ball player and great teammate, too, the kind of guy who is always intense and focused in practice, doesn’t make it all about him. He does a great job of being a guy that’s really respected … we’re lucky, lucky, lucky to have him.”
On the other side, OSU’s Dwayne Haskins is the heavy favorite for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. The Buckeyes signal caller has thrown for 3,685 yards and 36 touchdowns this season.
“He’s terrific, too,” Harbaugh said. “He plays with great poise. I love his demeanor when he’s playing the game. He’s always at that really locked in intense focus, but he’ll let it rip, too. He’s got a real great knack of throwing the football accurately, making decisions. I think he sees the field as well as any college quarterback I’ve seen lately.”
Setting up what should be a great showdown in Columbus Saturday for the right to go to the Big Ten Championship game.
• Harbaugh said his first memory of The Game was 1973, a 10-10 tie.
“Nine and a half years old … I sat in the south end zone with my mom, brother and sister,” he recalled. “From then on to that game at Michigan it was the highlight of the year, even better than Christmas.
“To us, this is as big as it gets. It doesn’t get any bigger. It’s the most important thing in our football lives for the whole 365 days. It’s that big.”