The Michigan Wolverines are 5-0. They have been in this position before. They have a new coach and hopefully the outcome Saturday will result in a 6-0 record for Michigan.
The Wolverines go on the road for the first time all season when they meet the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday. Here are five things to watch for when the Wolverines kickoff against the Wildcats:
Dan Persa made his first start for the Northwestern Wildcats last week, then tweaked his Achilles' in the fourth quarter.
However, Persa is expected to start Saturday against the Wolverines. Last week, Persa went 10-of-14 for 123 yards and four touchdowns.
That is solid for making his first start of the season, especially against an Illinois defense that is on the rise. Illinois' defense is much like Michigan's: improving and underrated.
The key will be to get a lot pressure on Persa, get him on the ground and force him to make bad throws.
The Michigan Wolverines defense got their first shutout of the year last week dominating the Minnesota Golden Gophers from start to finish, 58-0.
However, Northwestern is better than Minnesota, especially with Persa. Persa was considered a Heisman trophy candidate before the season until he got injured.
The defense is giving up 10.2 points per game, but the real test is coming up on Saturday and in the coming weeks, where they play solid offenses.
Northwestern is also averaging 28.8 points and has only committed two turnovers all season. The key for the Michigan defense: get Persa and the Wildcats to turn the ball over.
Last week, Michigan forced two turnovers, both fumbles against Minnesota, by getting pressure on the quarterback.
You always have to watch Denard Robinson. Last week, Robinson threw the ball more without getting picked off.
It was great to see head coach Brady Hoke continue to get Robinson comfortable throwing the ball, because it will be needed as the Wolverines' schedule gets tougher.
Robinson went 15-for-19 and passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota.
One advantage for Michigan and Robinson is that Northwestern is allowing 414 total yards, and 174.8 yards on the ground.
Michigan is averaging 272.6 rushing yards and 440.8 total yards per game.
The Michigan Wolverines have started undefeated the last two seasons and finished 5-7, and 7-5 combined.
Can they avoid that this season?
Michigan has a new coach and the players are older and more experienced. They have gone through it all and don't want to go through it again. That itself should motivate them to not let that happen.
Michigan isn't as banged up either.
The defense is much improved from a 110 ranking last season. They are 32nd in the country in 2011. Plus, they haven't allowed a touchdown in the 10 of the last 11 quarters.
The offense is more balanced with a passing game. They also get production on the ground from guys not named Denard Robinson.
Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Vincent Smith contribute out of the backfield. I believe Brady Hoke won't let a collapse happen again. At least that's my hope.