ANN ARBOR -- The Devin Gardner era at Michigan started with a minor mishap, but a series of big plays followed as the Wolverines climbed all over Central Michigan Saturday for a 59-9 season-opening win.
Gardner, a gifted dual-threat quarterback who had operated in the shadow of the dynamic Denard Robinson for the past three seasons, threw an interception on just his second play of the game, but settled down quickly and helped orchestrate a rout of the Chippewas.
Gardner ran for a pair of touchdowns and passed for another before taking the rest of the afternoon off as Michigan built a 36-point lead early in the second half.
The first series of the game started the disaster for Central Michigan as the Wolverines' Dymonte Thomas swarmed in and blocked a punt attempt by Richie Hogan. Michigan's Joe Reynolds scooped the ball up in stride and went 30 yards for a touchdown. Brendan Gibbons added the first of his eight extra points for a 7-0 Michigan lead just two minutes into the game.
The Chippewas then had defensive back Jarret Chapman intercept Gardner at the UM 6-yard line. After three rushing plays and a penalty, Central Michigan settled for Ron Coluzzi's 23-yard field goal and trailed 7-3.
Michigan got a 22-yard touchdown run by Gardner on its next series to make it 14-3, and then pushed the lead to 21-3 when Fitzgerald Toussaint punched in from a yard out on the first play of the second quarter.
Central Michigan's Jason Wilson intercepted Gardner again with about 10 minutes left in the half and returned the ball to inside the Michigan 30. A 27-yard field goal from Coluzzi followed to make it 21-6.
Gardner answered with a long drive and a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Gallon, and then following an interception by Raymon Taylor and a 54-yard return to the Chippewas' 12 Gardner ran in from four yards out for a 35-6 halftime advantage.
After Toussaint scored to complete a quick 75-yard drive to open the second half, Michigan turned the game over to its backups. Freshman running back Derrick Green punched in late in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 49-6.
Michigan continued to pound away on the ground, on its way to six rushing touchdowns, and added a 30-yard Gibbons field coal, while all the Chippewas could muster was a third field goal from Coluzzi.
The Michigan defense kept Central Michigan's offense out of the end zone, and limited the Chippewas to only 60 rushing yards.
Injuries complicated the difficult afternoon for the Chippewas, as both starting quarterback Cody Kater and all-conference running back Zurlon Tipton left the game early in the first half with injuries and did not return.
NOTES: Michigan starting S Thomas Gordon was suspended for the game due to an undisclosed violation of team rules. ... Chippewas QB Kater made his first start at the FBS level against Michigan, but left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury. ... Michigan PK Gibbons nailed all eight of his extra point attempts in the game, giving him 105 consecutive PATs, second all-time at Michigan. ... Central Michigan lost All-MAC RB Tipton in the first half with a leg injury, and he did not return to the game.