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Northwestern vs. Michigan: Matchups to Watch

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Which quarterback is going to make the big play?

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday's game between #13 Northwestern (5-0) and #18 Michigan (4-1) features two of the top defenses in all of college football, one of the surprises of the college football season to this point.

Here are some of the matchups to watch for:

Jake Rudock vs. Clayton Thorson

On skill sets, this is an apples and oranges comparison, but Saturday's game may very well come down to which of these two quarterbacks can play a clean game and take advantage of opportunities in the passing game.

Thorson gives the WIldcats a player that has a good arm and is able to move the pocket with his feet, while Rudock brings poise and experience to the position, traits that cannot be overlooked in a game like this. The player that protects the football the most for his team and stays upright will give his team a big advantage in this game.

Who Blinks First?

This game features a matchup between two elite defenses, but in any game like this, someone has to blink first. I give the edge to the Wolverines here because they are on their home field and I believe they are the more complete defensive team (more on that below). The secondary has proven to be capable of shutting teams down and they have more depth up front.  The Wildcats are stout as well, obviously. We will see how can limit damage and force turnovers on Saturday.

Michigan's Run Game vs. Northwestern's Rush Defense

Northwestern's run defense is good, but they are not quite as good as Michigan's is. The Wildcats are ranked 25th against the run so far this year, allowing 117.4 yards per game. They have done a nice job, but they have not seen a stable of backs like Michigan has to offer yet. Jim Harbaugh and Tim Drevno have four guys in the backfield they are comfortable giving carries to and they will pound the rock until they cannot anymore.

A healthy De'Veon Smith could be a big key, but Michigan's depth at running back should allow them to find someone who can make a big play.

What will you be looking for on Saturday? Sound off in the comments below!