Michigan’s Higdon stokes hype, predicts win over Ohio State


By MITCH STACY - AP Sports Writer



Michigan running back Karan Higdon (22) runs as Indiana defensive back Khalil Bryant (29) makes the tackle in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Michigan running back Karan Higdon (22) runs as Indiana defensive back Khalil Bryant (29) makes the tackle in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, puts an arm around Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, right, after an NCAA college football game against Indiana in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Michigan won 31-20. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)


FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer watches his team play against Nebraska during an NCAA college football game, in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer hates having to defend the performance of his ninth-ranked Buckeyes, who still have a shot at winning the Big Ten and the national championship heading into their game at Maryland. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)


No. 4 Michigan (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten, No. 4 CFP) at No. 10 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1, No. 10 CFP), noon EST (Fox)

By The Associated Press

Line: Michigan by 2.

Series record: Michigan leads 58-49-6.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Game is as critically important as ever, with the Big Ten East title and more hanging in the balance. A win for Michigan followed by a defeat of Northwestern in the conference championship game likely puts the Wolverines in the College Football Playoff. A win for Ohio State over its hated rival will help salve last month’s unexpected loss to Purdue and at least keep the Buckeyes in the playoff conversation if they go on to win the Big Ten. Ohio State has won the last six meetings and Jim Harbaugh hasn’t been able to beat the Buckeyes in first three seasons at Michigan.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. vs. Michigan’s defense. Haskins entered last year’s game in the third quarter after J.T. Barrett was injured and drove the Buckeyes 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and an eventual 31-20 win. As the Ohio State starter this season, Haskins is in the process of breaking most of the school’s single-season passing records. Michigan has the best defense in the country.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Michigan: QB Shea Patterson. The Ole Miss transfer has given Michigan stability at quarterback, piling up 2,177 passing yards with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Ohio State: RB J.K. Dobbins. He and fellow tailback Mike Weber have had a couple of good games since the Buckeyes figured out how to get their running game unglued after it got stuck in the middle of the season.

FACTS & FIGURES

The status of Michigan DE Chase Winovich, injured in Saturday’s game against Indiana, is uncertain. … Injured Ohio State players Weber, OL Thayer Munford and LB Baron Browning all should be available. … The longest winning streak in the series was nine by Michigan from 1901-09. … Michigan hasn’t beaten Ohio State in Columbus since 2000, which is also the last year that the game drew fewer than 100,000 spectators. … Since 2012 at least one of the teams has come into the game ranked in the top 10. … The 2017 game played in Columbus was a double-overtime 30-27 win by the Buckeyes that sent them to the playoff.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Michigan running back Karan Higdon pondered the question for a moment, smirked and glanced up at tight end Zach Gentry next to him. Then Higdon leaned forward to the microphone and predicted a Michigan victory over Ohio State.

It was the shot heard across the Midwest on Monday as the hype machine chugged to life for the 115th edition of The Game. The annual clash between the rivals is being played Saturday at Ohio Stadium, where Higdon just assured himself an even frostier welcome than usual.

There is a precedent for such prognostication, of course, albeit a generation ago.

Higdon’s coach, Jim Harbaugh, famously predicted a win over Ohio State as a player in 1986 and then backed it up, leading the Wolverines to a 26-24 win in Columbus.

Harbaugh, who hasn’t been able to beat Ohio State in his first three tries as Michigan coach, insists he doesn’t remember much about that prediction now . He had nothing but positive stuff to say about Ohio State on Monday. His counterpart, Urban Meyer, likewise kept talking about “respect” for Michigan and the rivalry, and said he would never engage in trash talk.

If the two coaches were trying to keep the lid on the hype and bad blood, Higdon pried it off.

The question went like this: “Would you go as far as Jim Harbaugh did and guarantee that Michigan will beat Ohio State?”

Higdon thought about for it a couple seconds.

“Yeah, I do,” said the senior from Sarasota, Florida . “That’s how I feel. I believe firmly in my brothers, my team, this coaching staff. And as a captain, I’ll take a stand. Why not?”

Maybe Higdon watched video of Ohio State’s game on Saturday.

The Buckeyes allowed Maryland, behind a backup quarterback, to roll for 535 total yards and 51 points. Ohio State eked out a win only because Terrapins quarterback Tyrrelle Pigrome misfired on a 2-point conversion try in overtime. Final score: 52-51.

Meyer said there have been some “uncomfortable and direct” conversations with coaches about the sorry state of the defense, but there isn’t time this week for a bunch of finger-pointing.

“We watched (the video) with the defense,” he said. “It was just not good.”

Fortunately for Meyer, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. is directing the second-most prolific offense in the country. On Saturday, Haskins and Co. will run into the nation’s best defense, though Wolverines defensive end Chase Winovich is injured and may or may not be available. Don’t ask Harbaugh to be clear about it, either. He’s not going to help.

As usual in this game, the stakes are high. The Big Ten East and a chance to play in the conference championship game hang in the balance. If Michigan wins out, it will be in the College Football Playoff. Another win over Michigan and a possible conference championship would help make everything sunnier for Ohio State after a season of inconsistency, underachieving and off-the-field problems.

Other Michigan players might not be predicting victory but there is confidence in Ann Arbor.

“It’s not just our coach, we’re also winless, too, against this opponent,” said Tyree Kinnel, a sophomore safety from Huber Heights, Ohio. “We know that. Now we’re here for this week, and it’s a game we have all been waiting for. Now, we have the opportunity in our hands to go change it, and we feel very confident about that.”

Ohio State finds itself in an unfamiliar position of coming into a game as the underdog amid talk that it just might not have the firepower this time to take down Michigan.

“We don’t talk about those things,” Meyer insisted. “It’s really about the game. We have a saying around here that the most prepared team will win the game. It’s not who’s favored and who’s not. I didn’t know that, and I don’t imagine our team really does, I guess. If they (do), they’re looking at the wrong stuff.”

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AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy

Michigan running back Karan Higdon (22) runs as Indiana defensive back Khalil Bryant (29) makes the tackle in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/11/web1_121820500-4c8ecac2606f4de4b66fff9d91c50b68.jpgMichigan running back Karan Higdon (22) runs as Indiana defensive back Khalil Bryant (29) makes the tackle in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, puts an arm around Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, right, after an NCAA college football game against Indiana in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Michigan won 31-20. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/11/web1_121820500-ffec7732e6ba4597b2be3a6c7f118859.jpgMichigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, puts an arm around Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, right, after an NCAA college football game against Indiana in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Michigan won 31-20. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

FILE – In this Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer watches his team play against Nebraska during an NCAA college football game, in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer hates having to defend the performance of his ninth-ranked Buckeyes, who still have a shot at winning the Big Ten and the national championship heading into their game at Maryland. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/11/web1_121820500-b6d5f244e9594045b3193d1c11efd4a4.jpgFILE – In this Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer watches his team play against Nebraska during an NCAA college football game, in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer hates having to defend the performance of his ninth-ranked Buckeyes, who still have a shot at winning the Big Ten and the national championship heading into their game at Maryland. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

By MITCH STACY

AP Sports Writer

No. 4 Michigan (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten, No. 4 CFP) at No. 10 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1, No. 10 CFP), noon EST (Fox)

By The Associated Press

Line: Michigan by 2.

Series record: Michigan leads 58-49-6.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Game is as critically important as ever, with the Big Ten East title and more hanging in the balance. A win for Michigan followed by a defeat of Northwestern in the conference championship game likely puts the Wolverines in the College Football Playoff. A win for Ohio State over its hated rival will help salve last month’s unexpected loss to Purdue and at least keep the Buckeyes in the playoff conversation if they go on to win the Big Ten. Ohio State has won the last six meetings and Jim Harbaugh hasn’t been able to beat the Buckeyes in first three seasons at Michigan.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. vs. Michigan’s defense. Haskins entered last year’s game in the third quarter after J.T. Barrett was injured and drove the Buckeyes 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and an eventual 31-20 win. As the Ohio State starter this season, Haskins is in the process of breaking most of the school’s single-season passing records. Michigan has the best defense in the country.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Michigan: QB Shea Patterson. The Ole Miss transfer has given Michigan stability at quarterback, piling up 2,177 passing yards with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Ohio State: RB J.K. Dobbins. He and fellow tailback Mike Weber have had a couple of good games since the Buckeyes figured out how to get their running game unglued after it got stuck in the middle of the season.

FACTS & FIGURES

The status of Michigan DE Chase Winovich, injured in Saturday’s game against Indiana, is uncertain. … Injured Ohio State players Weber, OL Thayer Munford and LB Baron Browning all should be available. … The longest winning streak in the series was nine by Michigan from 1901-09. … Michigan hasn’t beaten Ohio State in Columbus since 2000, which is also the last year that the game drew fewer than 100,000 spectators. … Since 2012 at least one of the teams has come into the game ranked in the top 10. … The 2017 game played in Columbus was a double-overtime 30-27 win by the Buckeyes that sent them to the playoff.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25