Tennessee (1-0) scored 16 points on two touchdowns and a safety in a span of 38 seconds late in the first quarter.
Mike Glennon threw four interceptions with one touchdown for North Carolina State (0-1).
A 20-year-old man was taken to a hospital after falling approximately 35 feet from the upper level of the Georgia Dome.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operates the downtown football stadium, said in a statement that the man fell on another fan seated in the mezzanine area.
The fan who was hit while seated was taken to the Atlanta hospital.
Wolfpack cornerback David Amerson, who led the nation and set an ACC record with 13 interceptions in 2011, was beaten for two long touchdown passes.
Amerson gave up the 41-yard pass from Tyler Bray to Patterson for the Vols' first touchdown and a 72-yard pass from Bray to Zach Rogers later in the first quarter.
Bray completed 27 of 41 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Glennon was 27 of 46 for 288 yards.
Tennessee enjoyed a successful start to coach Derek Dooley's important third season. The Vols finished 5-7 overall and last in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division at 1-7 in 2011.
With N.C. State leading 7-6, Bray's long pass to Rogers started the Vols' scoring surge.
On the Wolfpack's first play after Rogers' touchdown, Glennon was moving back from the 19-yard line when he was hit by Curt Maggitt and fumbled out of the end zone for a safety.
On Tennessee's next play, Patterson ran 67 yards -- first running left and then crossing the field to his right for his second touchdown.
The Wolfpack answered with a 67-yard drive capped by James Washington's 2-yard run. Washington hit the line, remained on his feet and bounced into the end zone for the only touchdown of the second quarter.
The Vols were denied a touchdown late in the first half when a review confirmed the officials' ruling that Bray fumbled when he reached the ball across the line while trying to score. N.C. State linebacker Rickey Dowdy recovered the fumble, despite the protests from Tennessee fans and players.
An 8-yard touchdown run by Rajion Neal and a 20-yard field goal by Michael Palardy in the third quarter pushed the Vols' lead to 32-14.
The Wolfpack tried to rally in the final quarter. Bryan Underwood made a leaping, 5-yard touchdown catch from Glennon, but the senior quarterback threw his third interception later in the quarter.
Parlardy added a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Marlin Lane led the Vols with 75 yards rushing on nine carries. Neal was the workhorse with 22 carries for 53 yards.
Glennon's fourth interception came with 5 seconds left as he threw deep into the end zone.
Attendance was 55,529, about 17,000 below a sellout.