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Takeaways from Michigan Football's 38-0 Destruction of Northwestern

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Michigan has become the hammer, no longer the nail.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan moved to 5-1 on the 2015 season with a 38-0 walloping of the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor.

If the first five weeks of the season did not tell you that the Wolverines are a contender for the Big Ten crown, this one may have certainly done so.

Here are my takeaways following Saturday's game:

Michigan's 2015 Defense is Historically Great

Many of us thought that the Wolverines would be very good defensively this year. It would be foolish not to think so given the personnel they had returning from a stout unit in 2014.

However, not only have they proven to be one of, if not the best, defenses in the country. They might be one of the best units Michigan has ever fielded.

In all areas -- defensive line, linebackers and secondary -- Michigan has looked excellent and they continue to absolutely smother teams. The Wolverines were able to notch their third straight shutout for the first time since 1980 and the first time that has been done in Division-I since 1995.

Following the game, safety Jabrill Peppers called Jourdan Lewis "the best corner in the country." The numbers back that up and Lewis continues to do so with his play. He made one of the great interceptions of the year that led to a touchdown in the second quarter and teams continue to throw on him for some reason.

Pat Fitzgerald after the game said that Michigan's defensive line was impressive because they are deep and keep coming after you in waves.

Overall, the Michigan defense held Northwestern to 163 yards of total offense, including 25 carries for 32 yards on the ground. They have also outscored their opponents 177-38 through six games this season (6.3 PPG).

Wolverines are Setting the Tone to Start Games

Michigan teams of the past came out at the beginning of games and sort of felt their way through things and react to what the other team is doing.

Not this one.

The Wolverines have the ability now to punch you in the mouth and it comes from the atmosphere Jim Harbaugh has created for his football team. Everything they do is competitive, whether it is drills in practice or races to the cafeteria. This team is better equipped to set the tone than they ever have been with this group of players.

The Big House atmosphere during the Northwestern game was raucous and louder than it has been in quite some time. They have a home field advantage now that assists in setting the tone in these games.

Michigan has become the hammer and is no longer the nail, or "stake," for next week's opponent's purposes.

Jake Rudock Looks More Comfortable

We know that Jake Rudock is not going to be a guy that is going to go out there and sling the ball around like Brett Favre, but he is becoming just what the doctor ordered for this Michigan offense.

In the last three games, Rudock has turned the ball over once while being able to move the chains effectively in the passing game. He's not great, but he does not have to be. Almost all of Michigan's skill players touch the football during these games due to him being good at spreading the ball around. Just do enough and do not lose the game for the team.

Rudock has done just that, and it has Michigan riding a five-game winning streak into one a huge showdown game next weekend with the Spartans.