The four-time world champion crushed Jack Lisowski 13-1 to secure a last-eight spot against either Judd Trump or Ricky Walden.
Higgins, though, was denied a 147. The 42-year-old opted for the pink after potting 11 reds and went on to complete a 146 clearance and put himself in pole position to win the £10,000 high break prize.
“It was a bit disappointing I didn’t get the position on the black for a 147,” admitted Higgins.
“There were people in the crowd saying to try and double the black, but I went for the 146 to try and take the high break prize.
“£10,000 is a lot of money and if I manage to win it, it’ll be great. I know there could still be a 147, so I’m not counting my chickens yet.”
Higgins – who will be making his 14th appearance in the quarter-finals in Sheffield – was ruthless against Lisowski.
He romped the first session 8-0 and returned yesterday to finish off the job.
Lisowski, 26, avoided an unwanted whitewash by winning the 11th frame with a break of 81, but Higgins was not to be denied.
“I don’t think I’ve ever won 13-1,” said Higgins. “It is probably one of my best results.
“Jack dismantled me 6-2 at the China Open so I was really up for the game. Next season will be big for him, he’ll be competing and winning in big events.
“I know you try and stay professional and be ruthless, but I feel for him a little as well.
“A couple of years ago I played Stephen Hendry and lost heavily. It’s the worst feeling in the world. It’s a very tough venue when you’re struggling, the harder you try the worse it gets.”
Higgins looks set to be joined in the quarter-finals by Ding Junhui, who needs one more frame on Monday when he resumes against Anthony McGill.
Sheffield-based Ding is ahead 12-4 as he chases his first world title. He produced an amazing first session, breaks of 102, 81, 126, 64, 75, 99 and 73 seeing him race into an 8-0 lead.
The 31-year-old returned last night hoping to complete victory and earn a day off, but Scotland’s McGill shared the eight frames, Ding completing the evening with a 113 clearance.
The 2016 finalist is set to face Barry Hawkins in the last eight after he beat Lyu Haotian – another Chinese player who is also based in Sheffield – 13-10 on Saturday.
But there will be no sixth world title for Ronnie O’Sullivan after the Crucible favourite suffered a 13-9 defeat to Ali Carter.
It was a feisty encounter, referee Paul Collier asking both players to calm down after the pair clashed shoulders in the 19th frame before exchanging words.
Carter – who has twice overcome cancer and suffers from Crohn’s disease – said: “He will do anything he can to win, and so will I. He barged me, but I’m sorry, I’m not going to be bullied by anyone.
“I’ve been through a lot in my life, much harder things than a shoulder barge from someone. If I was going to fall over and roll on the floor that’s not me as a person. It’s impossible. He didn’t exactly head-butt me and put me on the floor. The Crucible is really tight, it’s packed in there. We brushed shoulders and that’s all there is to it.”
It was Carter’s first win in 14 attempts to beat O’Sullivan, including two Crucible final defeats in 2008 and 2012.
The 38-year-old next plays the winner of Mark Williams and Robert Milkins. The pair resume on Monday with twice champion Williams leading 10-6 against Milkins, while Trump and Walden are locked at 8-8.