KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Alvin Kamara rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as Tennessee defeated North Texas 24-0 for its third straight victory.
This marks the first time Tennessee has won three consecutive games within the same season since reeling off four straight victories in 2010. Saturday's triumph made Tennessee (6-4) bowl eligible for a second consecutive season after the Vols failed to reach the reach a bowl game three straight years from 2011-13.
North Texas (1-9) never drove beyond Tennessee's 45-yard line as the Volunteers posted their first shutout since a 45-0 victory over Austin Peay in their 2013 season opener. North Texas was held scoreless for the first time since a 41-0 loss to Alabama in 2011.
Tennessee's defense helped the Vols overcome a sluggish performance by their offense. Tennessee mustered just 17 points through the first three quarters against a North Texas defense that entered the day allowing 45.6 points per game.
Kamara put Tennessee ahead for good barely a minute into the game on a 27-yard run around the right end. He added a 15-yard run into the left corner of the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Kamara has 10 touchdowns this season -- six on runs from scrimmage, three on catches and one on a punt return.
Jalen Hurd added 72 yards rushing, including a 1-yard touchdown on the opening play of the second quarter.
North Texas has lost 39 of its last 40 nonconference road games, the lone win being a 20-10 triumph over Ball State to open the 2009 season.
Tennessee entered the game as a 41 1/2-point favorite. North Texas interim coach Mike Canales joked this week that "probably the only person in the country that thinks we can win is my mom."
The Mean Green responded to those long odds by taking some chances.
North Texas failed to convert a fake punt attempt on fourth-and-12 from its own 39 in the second quarter. North Texas also went for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 47 later in the second quarter, but Jalen Reeves-Maybin stuffed DaMarcus Smith for no gain. Reeves-Maybin's stop set up a 34-yard field goal by Tennessee's Aaron Medley.
Tennessee was facing a team with an interim head coach for the second straight week. According to STATS LLC, this marked the first time a Football Bowl Subdivision team had played against interim coaches in back-to-back games since at least 1996, which was as far back as it had data on the subject.
Canales took over North Texas' program on an interim basis after Dan McCarney was fired last month. Tennessee was coming off a 27-24 victory over South Carolina, which promoted Shawn Elliott to interim coach last month after Steve Spurrier departed.
Tennessee faces one more team dealing with a coaching transition when it travels to Missouri next week. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel announced Friday he will step down at the end of the season due to health reasons.
AP College Football: www.collegefootball.ap.org