By BETH RUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tyler Bray threw four touchdowns, Da'Rick Rogers caught two of them and DeAnthony Arnett caught two more as Tennessee beat Buffalo 41-10 on Saturday.
Derek Dooley was looking for improvement on both sides of the ball after a loss at Florida and a bye week. The Vols (3-1) also got their first test without top wide receiver Justin Hunter, who tore the ACL in his left knee against the Gators and will miss the rest of the season.
Tennessee's passing game didn't look much different without Hunter. Bray, who was 21 for 30 piled up 342 yards mostly by throwing long to Rogers, who finished with 180 yards on seven
catches. Rogers surpassed his previous career high of 100 yards receiving with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter after a 58-yard pass from Bray that would eventually set up his second score.
Bray's four touchdowns marked the 10th consecutive game he's
thrown for multiple scores, ranking second in the NCAA behind Boise
State quarterback Kellen Moore's 16-game streak. He now has 14
touchdowns and 1,328 yards through four games.
Arnett only had 27 yards on three catches, but his touchdowns were tough ones. He stretched across the corner of the end zone on a 13-yard scoring strike that put Tennessee up 31-7 just before halftime and trapped the ball at the edge of the end zone, a play that was upheld on review, for his second score which gave the Vols
a 38-7 lead with 3:49 in the third quarter.
Tennessee scored easily after Buffalo (1-4) went three-and-out
on the opening drive. Bray had a pair of 14-yard passes and handed
off to Rajion Neal on a reverse, and Neal ran 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Vols a 7-0 lead 3 minutes into the game.
The drive was set up by Devrin Young's 43-yard punt return, Tennessee's longest in four seasons. Young was seeing his first
playing time after recovering from a fractured collarbone.
The Vols finally saw some improvement from their ground game too. After finishing with minus-9 yards total against Florida, Tennessee accumulated 187 yards rushing, led by Tauren Poole's 101 yards on 17 carries.
But Tennessee also showed enough mistakes that caused Dooley to
have some concern. The defense lost track of Buffalo quarterback Chazz Anderson on second-and-6 at the Bulls 32, and Anderson easily shot into open field to run 68 yards in a straight line for a touchdown with 3:21 in the first quarter to cut Tennessee's lead to 14-7.
Cameron Clear touched the ball but couldn't fall on it on a squibbed kickoff on the next play. Brandon Murie recovered the fumble for Buffalo at the Tennessee 21, but the Bulls couldn't capitalize and Peter Fardon was short on a 44-yard field goal attempt.
Tennessee got the ball to start the second half, but Neal dropped a lateral pass and recovered 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Da'Rick Rogers dropped a wide-open pass on the next play, and the Vols were forced to punt for the first time.
The game marked the first meeting between the two teams and
Buffalo's second time facing a Southeastern Conference foe. The
Bulls, who have beaten a BCS team only once before, previously
logged a 38-7 loss at Auburn in 2006.
Though Buffalo took advantage of some of Tennessee's mistakes,
the Bulls couldn't do much against Tennessee's speed. They gained
just 264 yards compared to the Vols' 531, held the ball 10 fewer
minutes, converted just three of 13 third-down attempts and zero of
three fourth-down attempts.
Anderson finished 8 of 19 for 99 yards and had 79 yards rushing.