ANN ARBOR, Mich. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - If Michigan wanted revenge for its 2007 loss to Appalachian State, this was a resounding statement.
The Wolverines ended the game by halftime, building a 35-0 lead and spent the second half basically holding on for the 52-14 win at Michigan Stadium.
There was history again, this time on the positive side, with two U-M tailbacks rushing for more than 100 yards apiece for the first time since 2007, with a receiver catching three touchdowns in an opener for the first time ever and a quarterback tying for the second-best completion percentage (92.8%) in U-M history.
The statement came early and emphatically before 106,811 fans, short of the 109,901 capacity.
The first half was virtually perfect for the Wolverines (1-0).
It started that way for quarterback Devin Gardner, completing his first nine passes on his way to 13-of-14 for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
Not surprisingly, his favorite target was receiver Devin Funchess, who was wide open repeatedly – including on Gardner's lone incompletion, when the ball flew behind the wideout.
By the end of the half, they had put on their own show of pitch and catch, with Funchess (wearing the coveted No. 1 jersey) grabbing seven passes for 95 yards and all three touchdowns – setting that opener record.
That was enough to bury the Mountaineers (0-1), but Michigan actually found a running game in the process with two huge runs from its tailbacks: a 59-yarder from Derrick Green on one series, then a 61-yarder by De'Veon Smith on the next series, which he followed by punching the ball into the end zone.
Green continued the one-upmanship in the second half by ripping off a 62-yard run, eventually pushing his total to 15 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown. Smith finished with eight carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Wolverines over 300 rushing yards for the first time since October 2012.
If only to bury the 2007 upset memories, U-M blocked an Appalachian State punt near the end of the first half – just like the Mountaineers did to end that upset game -- and Michigan's Ben Gedeon returned it for a touchdown.
It was a block returned for a score, just like the 2013 opener.
But that was about all that looked similar to last season.
The defense was stingy in the first half, but softened a bit in the second half, allowing the Mountaineers to march.
The biggest concern for the defense was losing star freshman Jabrill Peppers to an apparent injury.
Peppers limped around after taking a hit on the second defensive series, but remained in the game. Midway through the first half, he stopped returning punts but was still on the field as a nickel back.
He did not return to the field after halftime.
Contact Mark Snyder: firstname.lastname@example.org.