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11/17/2012 6:24 PM EST
No. 23 Michigan tops Iowa 42-17 with Gardner's TDs
MICHIGAN 42, IOWA 17

By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Denard Robinson made his highly
anticipated return to the field and wasn't in a position to call
plays for his first snap.



The spectacular quarterback lined up at running back behind
Devin Gardner, who accounted for six touchdowns to help the
23rd-ranked Wolverines rout Iowa 42-17 Saturday.



"It was different," Robinson acknowledged.



Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Robinson didn't have a problem
changing positions after missing two-plus games with nerve
damage in his right elbow.



"I think it tells you about what kind of kid he is, what kind of
young man he is, his growth, his character, his integrity," Hoke
said. "This kid had some unbelievable moments here and at
Michigan Stadium and has had some moments that weren't so good,
but he's grown from within.



"Devin said the other day, he has been the face of Michigan
football."



Gardner, though, has given the Wolverines (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) a
right arm and nimble feet to count on during a three-game
winning streak.



He threw three TDs and ran for three scores, becoming the first
Michigan quarterback to account for six TDs in a game since
1983, when Steve Smith had as many passing and rushing scores in
a game at Minnesota.



"If Denard hadn't gotten hurt, I would still be playing receiver
and we would be winning games in a different fashion," Gardner
said. "I'm just thankful I've taken advantage of the
opportunity."



Another Wolverine, running back Thomas Rawls, is going to get a
chance to play a lot against rival Ohio State next week because
of an injury.



Fitzgerald Toussaint took an option pitch early in the game from
Robinson and his left leg snapped gruesomely between his ankle
and knee as he was tackled by two Hawkeyes. Toussaint was sent
to a hospital for surgery.



"It was heartbreaking to see Fitz in so much pain," Gardner
said. "Fitz is a really tough guy and I've never seen his face
grimacing like that."



The Wolverines didn't need Toussaint to beat Iowa, but it will
be more difficult for them beat the Buckeyes for a second
straight year without him next week.



The hapless Hawkeyes (4-7, 2-5) allowed Michigan to score on its
first six possessions and couldn't stop the Wolverines until
Gardner threw an interception early in the fourth quarter.



"Defensively, we didn't have any answers for anything they did,"
coach Kirk Ferentz said.



Iowa was officially eliminated from postseason contention by
losing its fifth straight game for the first time since 2000.



The Hawkeyes will need to upset Nebraska next week to avoid
their longest losing skid since dropping the last eight games of
the 1999 season, which was Ferentz's first season as head coach.



"We're getting what we deserve," receiver Keenan Davis said.
"We're not playing well enough to win games."



Iowa athletic director Gary Barta has publicly supported
Ferentz, who under contract through the 2020 season.



Michigan, meanwhile, has a shot to have a second straight
double-digit win season in Hoke's second season in charge of
college football's winningest program. Hoke is the first coach
to avoid losing a home game in his first two years with the
Wolverines since Fielding Yost in the early 1900s.



"Seniors got to go in the tunnel and sing `The Victors' for the
last time in this stadium," Hoke said. "We put a lot of emphasis
on that because of the struggles and what they go through when
you look at a guy who has been here for or five years."



The Wolverines lost five home games when their fifth-year
seniors were freshman in 2008 during Rich Rodriguez's debut
season and fourth-year players experienced three setbacks in Ann
Arbor in their first year.



"Guys stuck it and really became Michigan Men," fifth-year
senior receiver Roy Roundtree said. "I feel like coach Hoke
really emphasized don't let no one come to your house and take
over."



Hoke also has stressed the importance of winning Big Ten titles
and says anything short of that goal is failing.



To earn a spot in the Big Ten title game to have a chance to end
an eight-year drought without a conference championship,
Michigan has to win at Ohio State for the first time since 2000
and has to hope the Hawkeyes can stun the Cornhuskers next week
at home



The Wolverines, though, have found a QB to help them close out
this season and to generate high hopes for next year.



But right now, Michigan and its fans have only one game in mind.



Early in the fourth quarter, the crowd at the Big House started
to chant: "Beat O-HI-O! Beat O-HI-O!"



Like Hoke, maize-and-blue clad fans don't say "State," when
referring to the rival Buckeyes.



Hoke didn't like what he heard.



"I said to somebody next to me, `We need to beat Iowa,"' he
recalled.



That didn't prove to be difficult.



The Wolverines did what they wanted through the air and on the
ground against the Hawkeyes, who were shut down offensively
after kicking a field goal to make it 14-10 early in the second
quarter.



Gardner was 18 of 23 for 314 yards with TD passes to Roy
Roundtree, Vincent Smith and Devin Funchess. Gardner ran for 37
yards, scoring on three short runs to lead a barrage of points
that finally ended late in the third quarter.



Robinson ran 13 times for 98 yards, including a 40-yard sprint
that included quite a juke along the sideline in the senior's
last home game. He took some snaps, but didn't throw a pass.



"I just wanted to get on the field and do whatever I could to
help our team," Robinson said. "That's how I've been my whole
career."



---



Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

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