UNC Vs. Missouri
December 27, 2011 by staff
UNC Vs. Missouri, Now that Missouri has won its final game as a Big 12 member, coach Gary Pinkel figures he’ll be inundated with questions about how his Tigers will fare in their new home – the Southeastern Conference.
Considering quarterback James Franklin is coming back, the forecast might be better than expected.
Franklin ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score, and the Tigers beat North Carolina 41-24 in the Independence Bowl on Monday night.
“We’re going to get asked this a million times, or maybe a hundred million times about the SEC,” Pinkel said. “And my whole thing is this: Anytime you’re new in a league, you’re going to have to prove yourself.”
The Tigers’ final impression from their Big 12 days is certainly a good one.
Missouri (8-5) ended the season on a four-game winning streak for the first time since 1965. The Tigers will join the SEC next fall and showed one reason they should be a factor immediately in Franklin, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound sophomore who generally did as he pleased in both the running and passing games.
“After the game, I gave him a hug and said congratulations,” Pinkel said. “Then I went back and asked `What happens when you get really good?’ … He kind of gave me a look, but that’s a huge compliment.”
Franklin, the game’s offensive Most Valuable Player, ran for 142 yards and threw for 132 in less than ideal conditions in the cold and rain at Independence Stadium. He led the Tigers to 31 first-half points – an Independence Bowl record.
“I’d give myself a B or B-minus in this game, mostly because of the interception I threw,” Franklin said. “Everyone on the team played really well and definitely helped me play better. That O-line and receivers were blocking well, especially on my scrambles. So their efforts might have made me look better than I actually did.”
For North Carolina (7-6), a season that started with a 5-1 record ended with a lopsided loss. The Tar Heels lost five of their final seven under interim coach Everett Withers, who leaves to become defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer.
North Carolina had the Atlantic Coast Conference’s second-best rushing defense, giving up just 106.2 yards per game. But the Tigers found plenty of running room with Franklin and Kendial Lawrence, repeatedly gashing the Tar Heels for big gains.
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