COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The ninth-ranked Missouri Tigers (8-1, 4-1 SEC) re-discovered their rhythm in a 31-3 win over the Tennessee Volunteers (4-5, 1-4) on Saturday.
For the first time in his three games as starter, Missouri's Maty Mauk was the more experienced quarterback on the field. The Tigers' defense pressured Tennessee freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs throughout the game in the first start of his career. Dobbs turned the ball over three times, including two interceptions.
Dobbs finished 26 of 42 for 240 yards and led the Volunteers with 45 yards rushing.
After struggling against South Carolina, Mauk rebounded in a solid, albeit erratic, performance. He threw three first-half touchdown passes to help stake the Tigers a 24-3 halftime lead. Mauk completed 12 of 25 passes for 163 yards, the second straight game he finished with a completion percentage under 50 percent.
Mauk didn't reign in his scrambling ability, however, which helped Missouri's offense move down the field after stalling a week ago. Mauk ran for 114 yards on 13 carries, becoming the first Missouri quarterback to rush for over 100 yards since James Franklin in the 2011 Independence Bowl.
Mauk's three touchdown passes went to three different receivers. Dorial Green-Beckham caught a 9-yard pass for a touchdown in the first quarter, and touchdowns of 26 and 40 yards to L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas were broken up by a 51-yard field goal by Tennessee's Michael Palardy.
It was the second straight week of struggles for the Volunteers, two weeks removed from an upset win over South Carolina. Tennessee largely put the game in Dobbs' hands, who was announced as the starter after Justin Worley tore ligaments in his thumb in a 45-10 loss to Alabama last week. Tennessee ran the ball 21 times for 90 yards, but running back Raijon Neal was held to eight yards on eight carries. He entered Saturday as the SEC's fourth-leading rusher, averaging over 95 yards per game on the ground.
Missouri's rushing attack avoided any hangover after struggling in the Tigers' first loss of the season. Seven players combined for 339 yards on 54 carries, with the only rushing touchdown coming on a 26-yard run by Russell Hansbrough in the third quarter. Missouri's three main running backs -- Hansbrough, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy -- combined for 31 carries and 179 yards.
The Tigers' victory helped maintain their one-game lead over South Carolina in the SEC East. The Gamecocks beat Mississippi State 34-16 on Saturday.
Mauk started slow, but once the Tigers' ground game began to work, he took over.
The redshirt freshman threw three touchdown passes in the first half as the Tigers took a 21-3 lead over Tennessee.
Missouri punted on its first two drives of the game, but the defense flustered Dobbsk.
The Tigers turned to their ground game on the third drive, which ended in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Mauk to receiver Green-Beckham on a tunnel screen. Green-Beckham caught the pass at the left hash mark and cut back across the field to outrun Tennessee's defense to the end zone.
Mauk started to click in the second quarter. He threw touchdown passes of 26 and 40 yards to Washington and Lucas, respectively, after a 24-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett.
Mauk finished the half 9 of 20 for 135 yards and led all rushers with 85 yards on eight carries.
Dobbs completed 11 of 20 passes for 101 yards, but an interception on a deflected pass was returned to Tennessee's 26-yard line. Missouri scored on the next play.
Tennessee's only points of the first half came on a 51-yard field goal by Michael Palardy.
NOTES: Missouri QB James Franklin, listed as questionable before Saturday's game, dressed but did not play. Mauk made his third start for the Tigers. ... Tennessee entered the game as the SEC's least-penalized team, but the Volunteers were whistled for five penalties in the first half.