ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Devin Gardner came crashing down against Akron after riding a high with five touchdowns against Notre Dame.
He had a career-high three interceptions and fumbled, giving the Zips a chance to pull off an upset for the ages against the Wolverines.
After throwing two touchdown passes and running for a score in a 28-24 win, Gardner was one of his harshest critics.
"I made a lot of bad decisions," he said. "Probably played my worst game ever, and won't happen again."
Gardner was coming off his best performance.
He threw a career-high four touchdowns and ran for a score the previous week, leading Michigan to a 41-30 win over the rival Fighting Irish.
In that game, risk-reward plays went Gardner's way other than an interception from his end zone.
Against Akron, he made a lot of poor choices with the ball as a runner and a passer.
He fumbled on an option play, keeping the ball instead of pitching it to Fitzgerald Toussaint, who didn't have a defender in front of him in the second quarter. Gardner ended Michigan's next two drives with interceptions. He was picked off a third time early in the fourth quarter and the interception was returned for a TD, turning an 11-point cushion into a 21-17 lead.
After Akron went ahead 24-21, Gardner ran for 35 yards and threw a 20-yard pass on consecutive plays to help set up Toussaint's touchdown with 2:49 left to play.
"We almost lost after coming out and having a great win last week in front of the whole world, and we come out and almost blow it.," Gardner said. "I definitely would have been sick if we didn't get a chance to pursue our goals of a national championship and Big Ten championship because of the way I played."