As quarterback James Franklin goes, so go the Missouri Tigers (2-0, 0-0). Last year, this team struggled mightily as he missed time and played through injuries. In Week 1, the Missouri offense made a triumphant return with a healthy Franklin leading the charge.
Against Toledo (0-2, 0-0) last week, the Tigers’ offensive production dropped from nearly 700 yards to 384 (three yards fewer than Toledo gained). But Franklin, who led the team in passing and rushing Saturday, accounted for 289 of those yards. He also made crucial plays on the two late scoring drives that helped Missouri emerge victorious.
The Tigers’ lead was a diminished to one-point, 24-23, after Toledo scored its first two touchdowns of the year. But Franklin’s 21-yard keeper set up Henry Josey‘s second 1-yard touchdown run of the game, extending the lead to eight. The quarterback later had a 6-yard carry on fourth-and-3 and an 11-yard gain on third-and-9 to set up Marcus Murphy‘s 8-yard run to conclude the scoring with 10:29 to go.
The reality for Missouri is this: If something happens to Franklin, the season will likely be lost. And the fact that he carries so much of the offensive production only increases the odds of that happening. The SEC is brutal, especially on running QBs. For Missouri’s sake, let’s hope Franklin is able to withstand the beating.
What to look for in Week 3: Triple digits. The Tigers, which are averaging 48 points per game, take on the Indiana Hoosiers’ (1-1, 0-0) 109th-ranked scoring defense. Indiana’s offense, on the other hand, is ranked seventh in scoring at 54 points per game. These two prolific offenses, paired against some less-than-stellar defensive units could explode for a ton of points. The most combined points scored in a non-overtime game featuring an SEC team was 93, when LSU played Southwestern Louisiana in 1936. That record could be in jeopardy this weekend.