COLUMBIA, Mo. - Maty Mauk eschewed efficiency in favor of effectiveness.
Missouri's redshirt freshman quarterback, making only his third collegiate start, completed just 12-of-25 attempts for 163 yards but tossed three of those completions for touchdowns as the No. 10 Tigers bounced back from their lone loss in style with a 31-3 victory against Tennessee on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 65,869 at Faurot Field.
"He'll get better and better as he goes," Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said of Mauk. "He makes plays, he does it with his feet and also did it downfield with his arm."
Mauk is as a seasoned veteran compared to Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs, a true freshman who made his first collegiate start. While both were shaky early on, it was Mauk who managed to right the ship.
Mauk helped his case immensely by using his legs, rushing for a game-high 114 yards, which fueled Missouri's 339-yard night on the ground. That total marked the most rushing yards for Missouri against an FBS school since putting up 401 yards against Kansas in 1998.
"If there's a hole and you can run, you're going to take that chance," Mauk said. "I did that tonight a little more than usual. If it's there we're going to take it."
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said, "They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. This was unacceptable."
Dobbs, a former Missouri recruiting target, wasn't so fortunate, as the Missouri defense forced him into 26-of-42 passing for 242 yards with a pair of interceptions and three sacks.
"It's difficult for a young player to be out in that kind of environment," Pinkel said of Dobbs. "That's a tough task for him."
The three points allowed marked Missouri's lowest total of the season. The last time Tennessee was held to three points was Oct. 29, 2011, against South Carolina.
It took Mauk a while to settle in, as he missed on his first four attempts.
L'Damian Washington didn't do Mauk any favors later in the opening period, dropping what would have been a 26-yard touchdown pass in the end zone. He'd later make up for it.
That drop didn't hurt the Tigers, though, as Dorial Green-Beckham caught a pass from Mauk on a short slant pattern and raced across the field for a 9-yard touchdown to put Missouri ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter.
Andrew Baggett faced his demons from a week ago, booting a 24-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to increase Missouri's lead to 10-0. That was the same distance Baggett missed from in the second overtime of the Tigers' 27-24 loss to South Carolina last Saturday.
E.J Gaines made his presence felt after missing the past two games with a strained quad, picking off a Dobbs' pass to set up the Missouri offense just 26 yards from pay dirt.
Mauk hit a wide-open Washington in the end zone on the ensuing play, this one a 26-yard toss that couldn't be dropped. That boosted Missouri's lead to 17 just 23 seconds after Baggett's field goal.
"The whole time I'm thinking, "Please don't drop the ball,'" Washington said.
Tennessee's Michael Palardy nailed a 51-yard field goal with 4:13 to go before halftime to cut the deficit to 17-3. That's all the Volunteers could muster.
Mauk hit Marcus Lucas in stride for a 40-yard touchdown pass on Missouri's next drive, extending the Tigers' lead to 24-3 with 1:44 left before the intermission.
Baggett missed a chance to extend the lead even further, blasting a 29-yard field goal off the left upright as time expired in the first half.
"It's a lonely position," Pinkel said. "It's like golf, you can't hide it."
Russell Hansbrough joined in on the fun midway through the third period on a 26-yard touchdown run that made the score 31-3.
The Tigers' performance made it clear the South Carolina loss is far behind them.
"Why in the world would you even be thinking about last week's game?" Pinkel said. "... We're 7-1, 3-1 in the league and we have four games left (heading into Saturday's contest), we're in November. I'll take that for the rest of my career, forever. They got that. There's so many opportunities out there."
Tennessee falls to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the SEC with the loss.
Missouri (8-1, 4-1 SEC) travels next Saturday to Kentucky. Game time is 11 a.m. (ESPNU-TV)
"The teams that win in November get remembered," Missouri center Evan Boehm said. "It's a great victory and it's a great time to celebrate but once Sunday night hits it's time to focus on Kentucky."
Note: Missouri quarterback James Franklin, out since spraining his shoulder Oct. 12 at Georgia, dressed out and could have played had the situation called for it near the end of the game. Pinkel believes there's a good chance Franklin will play at Kentucky.