ANN ARBOR, Mich. -

Michigan didn't play last weekend but moved up a spot in the rankings to No. 3.

This occurred one week after the Wolverines stayed pat following a 78-0 trouncing of Rutgers.

Regardless, Michigan is clicking on cylinders as it enters this Saturday's Big Ten matchup against visiting Illinois.

The Wolverines (6-0, 3-0) have scored 45 or more points on five occasions this season and four of their victories have come by at least 37 points.

But even that high level of offensive performance doesn't qualify as Michigan's top unit.

The defense has been even more terrific under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Don Brown.

The Wolverines have held five opponents to 14 or fewer points. They lead the nation in scoring defense (10.3 points per game), total defense (212.8 yards per game) and passing defense (113.7) and rank ninth in rushing defense (99.2).

The unit has been exceptional on third-down defense, allowing just 10 of 82 opportunities (a national-low 12.2 percent) to be converted. Rutgers was 0-for-17 in such situations.

Senior defensive end Taco Charlton said the players are aware of the superb statistical tidbits.

"We definitely care because it shows the hard work does pay off," Charlton told reporters. "It shows in the rankings and in the games we're a great defense and we've been able to prove that and we're proving out there we are that great defense we always talked about, that coaches talked us being."

Star outside linebacker Jabrill Peppers is the marquee player on the unit but he is far from the lone standout.

And making the defense even better is that nobody is satisfied -- even with all those stellar stats midway through the season.

"It's about not getting complacent and trying to perfect your craft every day, and I think we're doing a good job of that," senior defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow said. "We have a more mature team that's not going to let this go to their head, but we'll see in the second half of the season. We still have a ways to go."

NOTES, QUOTES

PLAYERS TO WATCH

--QB Wilton Speight is playing solid and has thrown 11 touchdown passes against just two interceptions. The sophomore is averaging just 199 passing yards per game but some of that is a product of the huge leads Michigan has built during easy victories. Speight, who is completing 61.6 percent of his passes, is making the right decisions and that pleases coach Jim Harbaugh.

--WR Amara Darboh has been Michigan's best receiver and he leads the team in the three main categories with 25 receptions for 400 yards and five touchdowns. The senior is reliable and has caught at least one pass in each of his past 26 games. Darboh has built a solid rapport with Speight and appears primed for a big second half.

--OLB Jabrill Peppers has been terrific in run support and leads the Wolverines with 10 tackles for losses. The athletic sophomore has seen his offensive role pick up and he has rushed five times for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Peppers is averaging 17.8 yards per return with one score while rating as a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

--CB Jourdan Lewis has played well over the past three games after missing the first three due to three separate injuries. The senior has pronounced himself fully healthy and the Wolverines are expecting that he will be shutting down his side of the field the way he did last season. Lewis' lone interception this season was an acrobatic game-saving grab against Wisconsin.