Columbia, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Maty Mauk threw three first-half touchdown passes and No. 10 Missouri bounced back strongly from a gut-wrenching loss by posting a 31-3 rout of Tennessee in SEC action from Faurot Field.
Mauk managed only 163 yards on a 12-of-25 completion rate, but delivered a career-high 114 rushing yards on 13 attempts as the Tigers rebounded from last week's 27-24 double-overtime setback to South Carolina and remained in control of the SEC East race.
Missouri (8-1, 4-1 SEC) blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead against the Gamecocks, but prevented any chance of an encore by holding the Volunteers scoreless in the second half and churning out 339 rushing yards.
The win kept the Tigers as the division's only one-loss team.
Marcus Lucas hauled in one of Mauk's scoring strikes and finished with 75 yards on four catches, while Henry Josey rushed for 74 yards on 16 attempts for Missouri.
True freshman Joshua Dobbs completed 26-of-42 throws for 240 yards in his first career start for Tennessee (4-5, 1-4), but was intercepted twice and lost a fumble as the Volunteers were handed an 11th straight road loss in SEC play. Alton Howard finished with 11 catches totaling 89 yards in defeat.
"When you give up over 300 yards to the other team rushing the ball and your team has less than 100, I think that pretty much tells the story," Vols head coach Butch Jones said.
The Missouri offense started off slowly, recording just one first down while punting on each of its first two drives. The Tigers put up points on four of their next five possessions, however, en route to building a comfortable 24-3 lead at the half.
Mauk engineered an efficient 14-play series to put Missouri on the board, with the Tigers converting four third-down chances on the 63-yard trek. On the final one, Dorial Green-Beckham took a short screen, cut back across the middle as the Volunteers overpursued and waltzed into the end zone for a 5- yard score late in the opening quarter.
A 10-play, 74-yard sequence in which Mauk came through with a pair of big third-down scrambles enabled Missouri to extend the margin in the second quarter, though the Tigers wound up settling for Andrew Baggett's 24-yard field goal after the drive stalled in the red zone.
"We started off a little slow but focused up, started to put some drives together and started making plays," Mauk said.
Dobbs, pressed into starting duty when Justin Worley tore a ligament in his right thumb during last week's loss at top-ranked Alabama, was picked off by E.J. Gaines on an underthrown ball on Tennessee's next touch to set Missouri up at the Vols' 26. On the ensuing play, Mauk rolled to his right and found L'Damian Washington wide open on a blown coverage to stake the Tigers to a 17-0 advantage with 6:35 left in the half.
A 33-yard run from Dobbs led to Michael Palardy's 51-yard field goal for Tennessee's initial points, but the Tigers quickly struck again when Lucas got past the defense to haul in Mauk's well-thrown deep strike for a 40-yard score and a 24-3 cushion.
The Tigers put Tennessee in a further hole with a swift touchdown drive midway through the third quarter, with Russell Hansbourgh capping the four-play jaunt by racing 26 yards virtually untouched on a shotgun draw.
Tennessee had a couple of chances to cut into the deficit thereafter, but came up empty on both occasions. Dobbs was intercepted in the end zone by Braylon Webb late in the third quarter after the Vols had crept into Missouri territory, and the young quarterback was stopped short of the mark on a 4th- and-6 situation from the Tigers' 13 on Tennessee's next possession.