Gardner, Michigan dominate Iowa
Ann Arbor, MI (Sports Network) - Making his third straight start at quarterback in place of Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner tossed three touchdown passes and rushed for three more on Saturday, as the 23rd-ranked Michigan Wolverines dominated the Iowa Hawkeyes, 42-17, at Michigan Stadium.
Gardner completed 18-of-23 passes for a career-high 314 yards with one interception, while Robinson, who had missed the last two games with a right elbow injury, started the game at running back and rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries to go with two catches for 24 yards.
"It means a lot," Robinson said of being able to play in his final home game at Michigan. "It is hard to put into words what this means to me, just to be able to lead this team as one of the guys picked by the team to be a captain and their leader. It is kind of hard to swallow right now because it is coming to an end."
Jeremy Gallon led the receiving corps with five catches for 133 yards, while Roy Roundtree, Devin Funchess and Vincent Smith each added a touchdown grab for the Wolverines (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten), who are tied with Nebraska atop the Legends Division.
Michigan has won two straight since an Oct. 27 loss at Nebraska gave the Cornhuskers the tie-breaker for the division crown with one game remaining for both teams.
James Vandenberg finished 19-of-26 for 181 yards and two touchdown passes, while C.J. Fiedorowicz hauled in eight passes for 99 yards for the Hawkeyes (4-7, 2-5), who failed to become bowl eligible for the first time in 11 years.
Iowa had no answers for the speed and versatility of the Michigan offense with both Gardner and Robinson on the field at the same time, as the Wolverines scored touchdowns on their first six touches.
"This has been something that we've talked about for 18 months," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said of having Gardner and Robinson in the backfield at the same time. "If we get to this point, how do we want to do it, how would you do it, where would you use the skill sets of the guys in the game."
After Michigan forced a three-and-out on the game's opening drive, Gardner led the Wolverines on a 12-play, 70-yard scoring march.
Gardner completed three straight passes on the drive before Fitzgerald Toussaint converted a 3rd-and-3 with a 10-yard run to the Iowa 15.
Toussaint sustained a serious left leg injury on the play and had to be carted off the field, but the Wolverine run game picked up where the junior running back left off.
Robinson, who added an 8-yard reception early in the drive, then rushed for eight yards to the Iowa 7 and Gardner capped the trek with a 1-yard surge to give Michigan a 7-0 lead with 8:27 left in the first.
Iowa answered with a lengthy drive of their own, as Vandenberg converted a 4th-and-1 from the Michigan 30 with a 2-yard surge. Three plays later, Vandenberg found Henry Krieger Coble down the middle of the field for a 16- yard touchdown to knot the game with under two minutes left in the first.
On the Wolverines' ensuing drive, Robinson scrambled around the right end for 40 yards to the Iowa 30 before Gardner capped the 7-play, 79-yard scoring march when he converted a 3rd-and-17 to Roundtree, who was wide open in the front of the end zone for a 37-yard score and 14-7 lead with less than two minutes gone in the second quarter.
A roughing the passer penalty on Michigan kept the Hawkeyes' ensuing drive alive, but Iowa was unable to pick up another first down and they settled for a 27-yard field goal from Mike Meyer to pull within 14-10 with 9:26 left.
After Robinson kept the Wolverines' next drive alive with a 6-yard surge on 3rd-and-2, Gardner aired it out for Gallon, who got under the 51-yard heave and made the grab to move Michigan to the Iowa 10.
Michigan couldn't score on any of its next three plays, but on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Gardner faked a handoff, bootlegged right and outran a defender into the end zone to give Michigan a 21-10 lead with 5:10 left.
A quick three-and-out from the Hawkeyes gave possession back to the Wolverines. Gardner then led his squad 87 yards in seven plays, capping the trek with a screen to Smith, who followed a convoy of blockers into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown to make it a 28-10 margin with under a minute left in the half.
Michigan turned the opening possession of the second half into points, as Gardner kept the march alive with a 19-yard scramble. Gardner then hit Gallon for 31 more to the Iowa 6 and on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Gardner faked a handoff, rolled right and surged into the end zone to extend the margin to 35-10 early in the third.
Michigan quickly forced a three-and-out before Gardner led the Wolverines on a 6-play, 60-yard scoring drive, which he capped with a 29-yard TD toss to a wide open Devin Funchess for a 42-10 lead with 4:33 left in the third.
Iowa turned Michigan's lone punt into points late in the fourth, as Vandenberg capped a 7-play, 45-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mark Weisman to account for the final margin.
"We got too far behind," Weisman admitted. "We had to try to put points up quickly and we just didn't get it done."
Gardner is the first Michigan quarterback to account for six touchdowns in a game since Steve Smith accomplished the feat in 1983 ... Michigan wraps up its regular season with a trip to Ohio State to face the sixth-ranked Buckeyes ... The Wolverines have won 14 straight home games ... Iowa had won the last three meetings between these schools ... Michigan outgained Iowa, 513-309.
11/17 19:53:22 ET