12:30 PM ET, October 1, 2011
Neyland Stadium, KNOXVILLE, TN
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, and the freshman finished with ... all-purpose yards but also lost a fumble on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
The Vols finally saw some improvement from their ground game too. After finishing with minus-9 yards total against Florida, Tennessee accumulated ... 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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||12-16|
|4th Down Conversions||0-3||1-1|
|TD||11:58||Rajion Neal 20 Yd Run (Michael Palardy Kick)||0||7|
|TD||03:53||Da'Rick Rogers 7 Yd Pass From Tyler Bray (Michael Palardy Kick)||0||14|
|TD||03:21||Chazz Anderson 68 Yd Run (Peter Fardon Kick)||7||14|
|FG||00:30||Michael Palardy 28 Yd||7||17|
|TD||08:25||Da'Rick Rogers 12 Yd Pass From Tyler Bray (Michael Palardy Kick)||7||24|
|TD||02:08||DeAnthony Arnett 13 Yd Pass From Tyler Bray (Michael Palardy Kick)||7||31|
|TD||03:49||DeAnthony Arnett 8 Yd Pass From Tyler Bray (Michael Palardy Kick)||7||38|
|FG||11:32||Michael Palardy 28 Yd||7||41|
|FG||08:38||Peter Fardon 30 Yd||10||41|