Tennessee sputtered at times, definitely didn't play up to its ability, but came out on top 28-19 over MAC visitor Ohio in Knoxville on Saturday.
In spite of not looking its best, the Volunteers (3-0) never trailed. They lengthened their winning streak to nine games with their Southeastern Conference schedule getting underway next week as Florida visits Knoxville on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
Tennessee wasted no time getting on the board, going 55 yards in just three plays, culminated by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Josh Malone that quarterback Joshua Dobbs lofted over the middle.
After a pair of field goals by Ohio's Louie Zervos (38, 29), the Vols found paydirt again with a Jalen Hurd 1-yard plunge just 22 seconds into the second quarter.
Again, the Bobcats (1-2) responded with two Zervos field goals (30, 30), narrowing their deficit to 14-12.
It stayed that way through the remainder of the first half and more than halfway through the third quarter before Dobbs had a gritty 13-yard run to the end zone to make it 21-12.
Ohio didn't go away. Fifth-year quarterback Greg Windham lobbed a 4-yard pass to Jordan Reid for a TD at the 1:09 mark of the third quarter.
Tennessee then went right back to work with an 11-play, 90-yard drive that got capped with Malone hauling in another score, this time a 20-yard pitch-and-catch from Dobbs. Aaron Medley's fourth extra point ended the scoring for both teams at the 11:07 mark of the fourth quarter.
Tennessee netted 201 rushing yards on 42 attempts with junior running back Alvin Kamara leading the way with 67 yards on 11 attempts. Four different pass catchers brought in three receptions or more. Dobbs was 19-of-27 passing for 203 yards. He was sacked three times and threw one interception.
Seniors Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder) and Cameron Sutton (ankle) as well as redshirt freshman Quarté Sapp left the game with injuries.