There?s a certain mood that surrounds a football team when it completely annihilates the opposition in every facet of the game.
It?s a feeling of totality, of all-encompassing satisfaction with its performance. It means that there aren?t ominous signs surrounding its secondary. Or its offensive line. Or its quarterback.
It means that there weren?t eleven defensive penalties and it means that its quarterback didn?t get carted off with broken back bones.
For Michigan, it?s a feeling that it didn?t get to experience in 2017, when its biggest margin of victory was 25 points and it never touched the 40 point barrier.
On Saturday, the Wolverines notched their second 46-point win in three weeks in a 56-10 rout of Nebraska. It was also their third consecutive game with at least 45 points.
?Probably the best I?ve ever seen Michigan look (since I got here), just from a total standpoint,? said defensive end Chase Winovich.
?It was just a great feeling.?
It?s a feeling that stems from dominating on all three sides of the ball.
Thanks in large part to its quarterback play, that?s something it was unable to do last year. Last week, though the result was never in doubt, didn?t have the same feeling because the Wolverines? secondary was vulnerable throughout and mistakes marred their second half.
One possession into the second half on Saturday, it was clear that Michigan had sidestepped those pitfalls. It led 46-0, with all three units putting up points thanks to a safety and punt return touchdown.
?Across the board, offensively, defensively, special teams, we killed it,? said running back Karan Higdon. ?I really don?t remember a game where we?ve been that sound across the board. It was amazing to watch, amazing to see.?
Its defense ? which was uncharacteristically troublesome against SMU ? bounced back in a big way, collecting an interception and safety as it allowed just two yards of total offense in the first half.
It was even able to limit the penalties that doomed it against the Mustangs until a few late mistakes.
?Defense, we really went out there and played how we should play every week,? said safety Josh Metellus, who had an interception for the second game in a row.
If defense was the only recipe necessary for optimism in Ann Arbor, though, it would be the happiest city in America and home of the 2017 national champions.
The reason that didn?t come to fruition was the complete absence of a passable solution at quarterback. In Shea Patterson, that problem looks to have found its solution.
He?s the reason that Michigan was able to put up 45 points when its defense struggled against SMU, he?s the reason taht it was nearly able to overcome a nightmare start against Notre Dame, and he?s the reason that Winovich feels more optimistic than ever.
?With how many variables we?ve had in years past,? Winovich said, ?where it?s been a defensive group, games have typically been pretty close, even ones that shouldn?t have been.?
As outspoken and controversial as he is, even Winovich can?t say it, but it?s easy to read between the lines ? he knows this team is different because it has Shea Patterson and not John O?Korn, or even Wilton Speight.
He hinted at it after the Western game but stopped his comments short of explicitly comparing Patterson to his predecessors.
?We?ve had Jake Rudock here and there?s problems that are beyond the scope of a quarterback,? Winovich said after the Western game. ?But in terms of how our offense played and how Shea looked, I?d say it was as good as any quarterback I?ve seen here.
?It was weird, being on the sideline and just seeing them scoring touchdowns.?
He may not have explicitly mentioned O?Korn or Speight but their exclusion is just as noticeable. As is the fact that he considered it weird to see his offense scoring touchdowns.
Two weeks and fourteen touchdowns later, explosive offensive outputs are becoming the norm for Michigan.
And that has Winovich and the Wolverines feeling as good as they ever have.
?The team?s on a roll,? Winovich said. ?That?s all I got to say.?