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If any member of the SEC was curious about what Missouri would bring to the conference next season, they don’t have to look anymore. James Franklin is going to be the name to watch and plan for next season when any team faces Missouri. That much was clear last night as Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel did his best to place his most dynamic offensive player on a pedestal for all to see as the Tigers, led by Franklin’s three touchdowns, dominated the North Carolina Tar Heels 41-24 in the 2011 Independence Bowl.
Now that the Tigers are headed to the SEC, the competition will become more formidable at the top. While some cupcakes abound in every conference, the Tigers will likely have to face a few elite level programs each season that will force them to recruit and plan better than ever if they hope to be ranked alongside them. That said, the SEC has been known to give way to dual threat quarterbacks like Franklin.
Tim Tebow took the Florida Gators to two national championships with his ability to run and throw. Cam Newton took the honor as well with Auburn and defenses had to respect his ability to also hurt a defense in multiple ways. Franklin is not on that level, so comparisons should be made lightly, but it’s hard to ignore 18 carries for 142 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns — from your quarterback.
Missouri is going to lose a significant amount of senior leadership and ability next season, so the replacements are going to have to be good along the lines. Also, Michael Egnew will leave a void at the tight end position. However, if the Tigers can sign Dorial Green-Beckham, for example, the impact of another dynamic playmaker on the outside could open up things for Franklin and the rest of Mizzou in ways that few can keep up with.
If anything, the Independence Bowl gave Missouri a chance to showcase its wares and Pinkel did just that. James Franklin, the player not the Vanderbilt coach, has now served notice to the SEC and you’d better believe they were paying attention to a performance that great.
The Missouri Tigers could have taken the pre-game events as a curse or omen of sorts. Instead, they realized that they didn’t need luck or fate or anything remotely close to outside forces to win the 2011 Independence Bowl over the North Carolina Tar Heels with a 41-24 victory.
The Tigers’ mascot, Truman, broke the Independence Bowl trophy before the game. In an obvious accident, the break was the story of the afternoon before kickoff and Tigers fans hoped on Twitter that it wasn’t a foreshadowing of sorts. Instead, the Tigers rolled with a dominating performance on both sides of the ball.
“Confirmed that Truman broke the Independence Bowl Trophy,” wrote Harry Plumer. “Tried to pick it up during a photo op, and it took a tumble. Was imported crystal. Asked Truman if he broke the trophy. He nodded. Asked him what happened. Threw his paws in the air, then covered his eyes to mimic sobbing. … Truman seemed as sorry as a college kid in a Tiger suit can seem.”
The Tigers finished the season at 8-5, closing out 2011 with four straight victories.
James Franklin and the Missouri Tigers dominated tonight’s Independence Bowl and it’s clear that a season on the brink ended up with a solid string of wins to close out the year at 8-5 after hitting the panic button at 4-5 at one point only weeks ago. Now the Tigers have won four straight and have a dynamic young offense returning that bashed the North Carolina Tar Heels in a 41-24 victory that was never that close.
ESPN’s David Ubben writes, “Missouri will head to the SEC with some good momentum off a pretty average season. The day in Shreveport finished with an S-E-C chant from the Tigers fans who made the trip. The Tigers will face a huge challenge in a new conference next year, while North Carolina begins a brand-new era in the ACC. Interim coach Everett Withers is headed to Ohio State as a co-defensive coordinator, and former Southern Miss coach (and Oklahoma State offensive coordinator) Larry Fedora will now take over in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have constantly underachieved under Butch Davis with lots of NFL talent, and Fedora will try and change that.”
Apparently a fan base is overrated. That's because the Missouri Tigers showed up with enough energy on their own that the ridiculously sparse fan base in Shreveport for the 2011 Independence Bowl didn't affect a thing with Gary Pinkel's Missouri Tigers as they dominated every aspect of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels in a 41-24 victory tonight.
James Franklin was undoubtedly the human highlight film and SEC teams likely took notice of the dual threat at quarterback for the Tigers. Big 12 opponents have long realized that Franklin can take a game over with the run and through the air and the Tigers relied on that tonight. Franklin went 15 of 23 for 132 passing yards and 1 touchdown, but he added another 142 rushing yards and 2 more touchdowns on the ground.
T.J. Moe had a touchdown pass of his own, while Kendial Lawrence and the rest of the Missouri ground game somehow made everyone say, "Who's Henry Josey?" (Only the leading rusher in the Big 12 at the time of his injury.) In short, the Missouri Tigers simply had the right game plan while North Carolina wilted early.
As for Carolina, Giovani Bernard was held to 13 carries for 31 rushing yards, and Dwight Jones, ruled eligible to play after some drama in the last week, had 6 catches for 77 yards and 1 touchdown. The Tigers finish at 8-5 on the season.
Hello, Southeastern Conference, I'd like to introduce you to the dark horse candidate to the 2012 SEC Player of the Year. His name is James Franklin....no, not the coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores, but the quarterback of the Missouri Tigers.
In his final season in the Big 12, Franklin threw for 2733 yards with 20 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Plus, he put up 839 rushing yards and another 13 rushing touchdowns in an explosive offense that doesn't look to slow down under the leadership of Gary Pinkel. Sound familiar to any of you? Cam Newton-esque? Tim Tebow-esque?
Franklin's surely making a case for the pre-season crown in the SEC for 2012 with his performance versus a usually strong North Carolina defense. So far, Franklin's actually having a "quiet" game per his standards. 123 yards passing and a touchdown along with 103 yards rushing and two touchdowns have given the Tigers a commanding 38-17 lead over the Tar Heels in the 2011 Independence Bowl.
Oh, and Franklin's only a sophomore. Enjoy him SEC fans, he could be the next big thing.
Earlier the question was asked if either the Missouri Tigers or the North Carolina Tar Heels defense would step up after each team scored a touchdown in the game's first five minutes.
Missouri answered the call, while North Carolina has begun to self-destruct before our very eyes.
One fumble, one interception and 31 points later, the Tigers have a commanding 31-7 lead over the Tar Heels in the 2011 Independence Bowl. Shreveport hasn't seen this type of takeover since the Louisiana Purchase back in 1803.
James Franklin rushed for a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter, then passed for an 8-yard touchdown to Jerrell Jackson in the second quarter to springboard the Tigers into a big lead. Kendial Lawrence then scored from 9 yards out to push the Tigers lead to 24 points.
So far in one half of action, the Tar Heels defense have given up a whopping 318 yards of offense to Gary Pinkel's unit. Bryn Renner has struggled in the first half after throwing for an early touchdown to give UNC a 7-0 lead, and UNC's rushing attack has mustered just 13 yards.
Missouri needs to keep their pedal to the metal in the second half, bowl games have a way of becoming exciting when you least expect it.
In a 6-play, 51-yard opening drive by the North Carolina Tar Heels, UNC quarterback Bryn Renner connected with Dwight Jones for a 22-yard pitch and catch touchdown to give the Tar Heels an early 7-0 lead over the Missouri Tigers in the Independence Bowl.
Not to be outdone, Missouri responded promptly with a 5-play, 58-yard scoring drive of their own, culminating in a wide receiver touchdown pass from T.J. Moe to Wes Kemp. The 40-yard catch capped a drive that lasted 2:06 for the Tigers.
In less that five minutes of gameplay, 14 points are on the scoreboard. At this rate, maybe the final will resemble something more like, "First to 100 wins." Truthfully, most bowl games see defenses who take a few drives to get up to speed, as the teams have had a long layoff and the offense has the advantage.
We shall see if the defenses actually show up soon enough.
In a match-up of two 7-5 teams undergoing a program-wide transition, the Missouri Tigers are favored by -3.5 points over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2011 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.
While Missouri is abandoning over a century's worth of tradition with their former Big 8 rivals in the Midwest to go the SEC, North Carolina is playing under an interim coach and washing away the last vestiges of the Butch Davis era in Chapel Hill, which brought both an unprecedented amount of NFL talent and the scandals that often come with it.
The Tar Heels recently hired Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora, but interim coach Everitt Withers will coach them during the Independence Bowl before moving on to become part of Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State.
In a match-up of strength on strength, Gary Pinkel's offense will try to spread out a talented North Carolina team that features at least two projected first-round picks: 6'6 285 DE Quinton Coples and 6'2 240 OLB Zach Brown.
Missouri scores 32.2 points a game, 32nd in the nation, and they are led by dual-threat sophomore QB James Franklin, who passed for 2,733 yards and 20 TD's and rushed for 839 yards and 13 TD's this season.
North Carolina counters with a similarly inexperienced backfield of sophomore QB Bryn Renner, who completed 68.8% of his passes for 2,769 yards, 23 TD's and 13 INT's, and freshman RB Giovani Bernard, who rushed for 1,222 yards and 13 TD's on 5.4 yards per carry in his first season in Chapel Hill.
Missouri's defense, meanwhile, has held up surprisingly well in the high-scoring Big 12, giving up only 23.5 points a game despite facing the vast number of high-scoring offense in the conference.
That competition should serve them well against their bowl opponent, who did not challenge themselves in non-conference play and faced only three ranked teams in the ACC all season.
As ESPN's David Ubben looks ahead to today's Independence Bowl match-up between the Missouri Tigers and North Carolina Tar Heels, he notes that defending the big play is going to make all the difference. That's a good point given that both teams have some great skill position players and Missouri, in particular, has a dynamic quarterback with massive potential in James Franklin. To that end, the team that can limit the big gains could be the winner in the end.
Ubben writes, "The Tar Heels are right in the middle of the pack in the ACC when it comes to big plays, but outside of Texas, Missouri has been the Big 12's best team at limiting plays from scrimmage longer than 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards. That should continue, and if it does, Missouri should be fine. Neither team has a huge advantage in this one, but the Tigers should win if they play like their usual selves. Fact is, 7-5 and 5-4 in the Big 12 is a lot more impressive than North Carolina's marks of 7-5 and 3-5 in the ACC."
While there are bigger “name” players who will take the field today for the 2011 Independence Bowl between the Missouri Tigers and North Carolina Tar Heels, there’s one unheralded player in E.J. Gaines who could make the biggest difference. That’s what Dave Miller of the National Football Post believes when he profiles the upcoming Independence Bowl match-up.
Miller writes, “Senior defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton gets much of the attention on the Mizzou defense because of his 6-5, 305-pound frame, but cornerback E.J. Gaines is integral to the Tigers’ pass defense. He set a new school record with 16 pass break-ups and added 69 tackles, and the first-team all-Big 12 defender will need to be at his best against Dwight Jones and the UNC passing attack.”
Jones has 79 catches for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, so he’s definitely going to be a target UNC goes to again and again. If Gaines can shut him down, the Tigers should win this out easily.
At one point, the Missouri Tigers were in danger of not even making a bowl game. Now they’re predicted to win one. That’s the sort of turnaround that the Tigers have enjoyed this year after being 4-5 at one point this season. Even after losing the Big 12’s leading rusher in Henry Josey, the strength of the Missouri schedule eased a bit and James Franklin provided enough offense for Gary Pinkel’s team to return to a winning record at 7-5 and become the favorites for tonight’s Indepedence Bowl.
David Ubben of ESPN believes they are now the favorites against the Tar Heels, despite the dynamism of the UNC offense. Missouri is going to be challenged for sure given that the Tar Heels have some great young skill players like Dwight Jones, who was recently ruled eligible after some concerns off the field. Even then, Mizzou has enough weapons of their own to provide a counterbalance.Ubben writes, “The Tigers match up pretty well with UNC, and take care of business with a solid performance from James Franklin, who tops 125 yards rushing and throws for 225, accounting for four touchdowns. The Tigers head to the SEC on the right note.”
As quarterback James Franklin goes, so have the Missouri Tigers. That’s been the mantra this season as the Tigers have experienced an up and down year based in part on Franklin’s dynamic abilities — and inconsistencies. Yet Franklin holds more talent than most, so if there some growth curves along the way, Gary Pinkel will take it.
That’s what makes today’s match-up against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2011 Independence Bowl so fun to watch. Franklin has thrown for 20 touchdowns and rushed for another 13. His athletic ability makes them a threat to break a play open at any time. David Ubben believes he’s the main player to watch tonight.
Ubben writes, “Franklin’s the center of everything Missouri does offensively, especially since Henry Josey went down with a knee injury. When Franklin finds some running room, it opens up the passing game. And when he hits on a few passes down the field, it opens things up for his legs. He can do either to set up the other, and Missouri’s offense goes as he goes. A big day for one means a big day for the other. A bad day for one means a bad day for the other.”
The Independence Bowl dates back to December 13, 1976 when the Shreveport area was rewarded with a post season bowl game. The name "Independence Bowl" was chosen as a tribute to the men and women that were or had served the country due to a strong military presence located in Shreveport, Louisiana. It is currently the 11th oldest bowl game in the Country.
Missouri and North Carolina enter the 36th Independence Bowl game as programs in transition. For the Tigers, it will be their final game as a part of the Big 12 conference before joining the SEC next season. That is something that coach Gary Pinkel is well aware of.
"It's the last game we're going to play in the Big 12 and that's kind of on my shoulders and on our players' shoulders. This game is important for many reasons, but this game will be remembered specifically for that."
For North Carolina, it will be the final game under interim head coach Everitt Withers who stepped in for the fired Butch Davis prior to the season. The Tar Heels recently hired Southern Miss Larry Fedora as their new head coach. Withers has agreed to join Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State next season.
Time: Monday, December 26, 4:00 p.m. CT
Location: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
Missouri will close out its status as a member of the Big 12's football community by playing in the SEC's backyard, and in a bowl game that's historically featured the Tigers' new home conference. The game against North Carolina will be MU's first against an ACC opponent since 1999.
Among the key match-ups will be Mizzou's ability to run the ball against a stout UNC defense to free up quarterback James Frankin. The Tigers' leading rusher Henry Josey missed the last two games of the regular season and is expected to be out against the Tar Heels, who are 14th in the nation in rushing defense. Giovani Bernard has rushed for a Missouri freshman record of 1,220 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Date, time: Monday, December 26, 4 p.m. CT
Location: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
Radio: Mizzou Radio Network, KEEL 710 AM (Shreveport broadcast)
The North Carolina Tar Heels can breathe easy knowing that their star wide receiver Dwight Jones is now eligible to play in the upcoming Independence Bowl against the Missouri Tigers. He was temporarily ruled ineligible for allowing his likeness to appear on a poster for a local club, breaking a rule that prohibits college athletes from endorsing any event or product with their image.
Andrew Carter writes, "North Carolina had declared Jones ineligible after he allowed his name and likeness to be used to promote a New Year’s Eve birthday party in his honor at a club in Burlington, his hometown. By allowing his name and image to be used on a flier promoting the party, Jones had committed a secondary NCAA violation.
“After the flier surfaced Monday on the popular sports website Deadspin.com, Withers and other North Carolina officials began talks with the NCAA about Jones’ status. North Carolina announced on Tuesday that it had ruled Jones ineligible, and that it had applied with the NCAA for his reinstatement.”
Only the Big 12 and SEC have had all of their member schools play in a postseason bowl game over the last four years. Eight of the 10 Big 12 teams will be in action over the next two weeks.
The upcoming Independence Bowl contest between the Missouri Tigers and North Carolina Tar Heels already features two teams aiming to get the best out of a 2011 resume they’d rather forget. North Carolina is going to find that task a bit more difficult with the news that star wide receiver Dwight Jones has been ruled ineligible to play due to his okaying the use of his likeness on a club’s promotional poster.
Bill Pollock reports, "Jones was ruled ineligible for the game after he allowed his name and photo to appear on a flyer promoting a party at a club in his hometown of Burlington which is just 30 miles from the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. The NCAA has a rule prohibiting athletes’ from lending their likeness to any promotional materials for off-campus, revenue generating establishments.
“Jones is going to play in the NFL next year, but may have played his last college game. Jones had 79 catches for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns.”
It’s not the finish that either team can be that happy about. After all, the Missouri Tigers especially were hoping for another double digit win season, for James Franklin to prove to be the next great Missouri passer, and for Gary Pinkel to deliver another strong bowl game as the team heads into the greater frontier of the SEC. At this point, however, the Tigers are feeling good to just make it into a bowl game after being on the verge of missing out entirely.
Now they face the North Carolina Tar Heels and both teams are at 7-5. Dave Miller recently posted another Bowl Rankings Countdown previewing each bowl from 1 to 35 in terms of strongest to weakest bowl game match-up. He gives the Independence Bowl the No. 24 ranking and writes, “Mizzou dual-threat quarterback James Franklin will be tested by a defense that, while not a dominant force this fall, still has plenty of NFL talent.”
That’s not much in the way of a preview, and that’s also a sign of the level of interest in this game on the national level. At the very least, the ability to hit the 8-win total and gain another bowl win on the resumes of the school is enough for both teams to play for.
The Missouri Tigers were relegated to the Independence Bowl for the third time in nine years. How do they matchup with the North Carolina Tar Heels from the ACC?
Missouri is reportedly headed to the Independence Bowl on December 26 where it will likely take on North Carolina.
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