Ann Arbor, MI – Devin Gardner threw for 162 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for a pair of scores, as No. 17 Michigan demolished Central Michigan, 59-9, at Michigan Stadium.
Despite being picked off twice, Gardner completed 10-of-15 passes, and gained 52 yards on seven carries for the Wolverines (1-0), who were coming off an 8-5 campaign in 2012 which included an Outback Bowl defeat against South Carolina.
"Well, I think to the offense itself, I think it's really important. I think to have balance and when you have balance, you can run the ball," said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. "It just opens up so much of the play-action game. And that's the one thing that Devin more than a lot of quarterbacks does such a great job -- with ball-handling and play-action -- that it's a big part of our offense."
Fitzgerald Toussaint crossed the goal line twice on the ground en route to a 57-yard, 14-carry performance, Derrick Green and Thomas Rawls added a rushing TD apiece, and Jeremy Gallon registered a touchdown catch among his four grabs for 47 yards.
Alex Niznak went 11-of-22 for 131 yards and was picked off once for the Chippewas (0-1), who went 7-6 a season ago which ended with a Little Caesars Bowl victory over Western Kentucky.
"I thought he did a couple of good things," said Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos about Niznak. "He made some mistakes too as you would expect from a guy in his first game, and they are a good defense. We will look at the tape and see how he did. One thing I thought he did was he competed. He came in there, and he competed. He had a great attitude; he was positive the whole time."
Starter Cody Kater left the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter, after going just 2-of-6 for 13 yards.
Ron Coluzzi's three field goals accounted for all the meaningful Central Michigan offense. Andrew Flory totaled 79 yards on four receptions.
Michigan took control right away, as Dymonte Thomas blocked a Richie Hogans punt, which Joe Reynolds recovered and ran 30 yards for the game's opening score.
Coluzzi's 23-yard field goal put CMU on the board two series later, but the hosts responded with a six-play, 77-yard march ending on a 22-yard rushing score from Gardner and a 14-3 lead.
The Wolverines went up 21-3 on the first down of the second quarter, as Toussaint plunged in from the one to cap a 73-yard progression in 10 plays.
Jason Wilson later picked off Gardner, and Coluzzi split the uprights from 27 yards away, but Michigan roared back with a pair of end-zone forays. Gardner found Gallon for a 16-yard TD strike, then took it in himself from four yards out inside the final minute of the half, and the 29-point margin stood at intermission.
Toussaint's two-yard run produced a 42-6 margin for the hosts to cap their first drive of the second half, then Green rolled in from the one and Rawls contributed a five-yard jaunt to paydirt and it was 56-6 heading to the fourth.
A 33-yarder from Coluzzi opened the scoring in the final period, while Brendon Gibbons later connected on a 30-yarder to cap the rout.
Michigan, which registered its 15th consecutive home victory, has won all four lifetime matchups with CMU, including a 41-17 decision in their last meeting, in Ann Arbor on Sept. 9, 2006 ... The Wolverines racked up the most points in one game since ripping UMass by a 63-13 count on Sept. 15, 2012 ... Michigan outgained their MAC foes by a 463-210 margin ... The Wolverines recorded their highest-scoring season opener since whipping Ohio Wesleyan 65-0 in 1905 ... Prior to the contest, UM announced that starting safety Thomas Gordon was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.