ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Mike Hart ran for 146 yards and No. 14 Michigan got off to a strong start with a 27-7 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
The Wolverines scored on an impressive opening drive and had a chance to build an early cushion, but the Commodores blocked a kick and scored on a trick play to pull within three points early in the second quarter.
The Wolverines sealed their eighth straight home opener by forcing quarterback Chris Nickson to fumble for a second time with 4:33 left near midfield, leading to Henne's 27-yard pass to Mario Manningham.
In his first start in place of Jay Cutler, who Denver drafted with 11th overall pick, Nickson was 11-of-25 for 99 yards and would've been sacked more than six times if he wasn't so mobile. Standout receiver Earl Bennett had six catches for 58 yards and threw a 30-yard touchdown to Marlon White to make it 10-7 with 12:26 left in the first half.
Henne finished 10-of-22 for 135 yards with two TDs.
The Wolverines are coming off a 7-5 season, their worst since going .500 in 1984. They have their lowest preseason ranking since 1997, when they went on to win a national championship.
Cutler helped Vanderbilt win five games last season - after the school had four straight two-win seasons.
The way the Wolverines started, it looked like it might be an easy afternoon.
Michigan drove 81 yards on the opening kickoff - with a nice mix of the run and pass - and scored on a 19-yard run when Kevin Grady went right and sliced across the defense with a cutback.
The Wolverines had to settle for a 10-0 lead on their third drive after a pass for a first down at the 1 was overturned by review.
Vanderbilt started to make the Wolverines sweat by blocking a field goal and fooling them on a trick play early in the second quarter. Nickson tossed a lateral to Bennett, who found a wide-open White for a 30-yard TD.
Garrett Rivas' career-long 48-yard field goal on the ensuing possession put Michigan ahead 13-7. The Wolverines had a chance to create a bigger cushion on their next drive, but Grady fumbled at Vanderbilt's 19.