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Independence Bowl 2011: Missouri James Franklin Could Be Game's X-Factor Against North Carolina

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.”