Michigan looks to remedy road woes against ranked opponents

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan’s season opener at Notre Dame carries considerable significance, only partly that the rivalry is being renewed after a three-year break.

The 14th-ranked Wolverines will find out plenty about themselves against No. 12 Notre Dame as they hope to achieve their first road win against a ranked team in 12 years. They are 0-16 against Top 25 teams since defeating then-No. 2 Notre Dame in 2006.

Michigan and Notre Dame last played in 2014.

Michigan players are well aware of the program’s road record.

So what would a win at Notre Dame mean?

“It answers a lot of questions about our program,” defensive end Chase Winovich said Tuesday. “It’s no surprise we haven’t been very good on the road the past couple of years. We’re playing against the 12th-ranked team. .. If  we can go into Notre Dame of all places — first game of the year — and set the season off on that note, it says a lot about the trajectory of our season.”

Michigan is on its fourth coach during the streak, which began while Lloyd Carr, who spent 13 seasons as head coach, was on the job. Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke have come and gone, and now Jim Harbaugh is in his fourth season.

Winovich said the players don’t spend much time talking about another drought — Michigan not winning a Big Ten title since 2004.

“For us, all our focus has been on Notre Dame, trying to beat those guys,” he said. “Right now, they’re way bigger focus and problem staring us right in the face than worrying about trying to go to a Rose Bowl.”

More: Michigan's Chase Winovich overcomes sting of not being a captain

More: Harbaugh doesn't rule out Tarik Black's return to Michigan in 2018

Higdon healthy

There were rumors over the weekend that running back Karan Higdon was injured in the scrimmage last Saturday, but on Tuesday he assured he is just fine.

“I don’t know why that report is there. That’s crazy,” Higdon said laughing. “I’m fine. I’m 100 percent healthy. I guess Saturday everyone will just see it.”

Higdon, a senior, was voted an offensive captain along with guard Ben Bredeson.

Tru calling

Tru Wilson, formerly a walk-on, has moved into the No. 3 spot on the depth chart at running back behind Higdon and Chris Evans.

“He’s done a great job,” Harbaugh said Tuesday on the Big Ten conference call. “I would say he has risen to No. 3. He’s just really improved in every area, pass blocking, his running has been productive. He’s seeing the holes better. He’s added quite a bit of strength. He’s moving faster and quicker. He’s not making his cuts so far away from people. He’s taken coaching in that area, not making the cut too early which was something that losing him yards on his runs.”