Posted by Chip Patterson
MISSOURI WON. The Tigers scored on their first five offensive drives, and never gave North Carolina a chance to come back on the the way to a 41-24 win in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. Missouri quarterback James Franklin delivered another impressive dual threat performance - picking up 132 yards and a touchdownthrough the air while adding 142 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
HOW MISSOURI WON: North Carolina's offense never had a chance to get in a rhythm, with the Tigers' defense applying pressure to quarterback Bryn Renner and shutting down the Tar Heels' rushing attack. North Carolina picked up just 36 team rushing yards against Missouri, well below their regular season average of 147.4 yards per game. But that defense also benefited from the efficiency of Franklin and the offense. The Tigers scored on every offensive possession in the first half, and did not punt until the 7:16 mark in the third quarter. While the defense was delivering stops, the offense continued to grind away at the Tar Heels and create scoring opportunities by converting on key third downs. The extended drives kept the Tigers in the driving seat, all the way until the end. The victory gave the Tigers their sixth-straight 8-win season, and some great momentum on their way into the SEC East.
WHEN MISSOURI WON: Midway through the second quarter, North Carolina's defense needed to deliver a stop to keep the Tigers from scoring after a Gio Bernard fumble. Staring down a short field, Franklin converted on 2 third downs in the 40 yard drive on the way to increasing the Missouri lead to 24-7. On the Tar Heels' next play from scrimmage, a Dwight Jones bobbled catch turned into an astonishing interception for Tigers' defensive back Zaviar Gooden. At that point, it was clear things weren't going North Carolina's way.
WHAT MISSOURI WON: A fine highlight to show to their future conference partners in the SEC. James Franklin's performance against a talented North Carolina defense showed how comfortable he has gotten leading this Tigers' offense. Now with four-straight wins since Henry Josey's freak knee injury, Franklin has displayed the composure Missouri will need facing the SEC defenses in 2012.
WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: North Carolina's roster has several NFL Draft hopefuls, but none of the prospects got much to put on tape from Monday night's loss. There was some speculation heading into the game that the talented draft class would look to make a statement in their final game as a Tar Heel. For whatever combination of reasons, the Tar Heels missed out on the opportunity to pick up their second-straight bowl victory because they didn't show up.
THAT WAS CRAZY: The aforementioned Dwight Jones bobble interception. It was just one of those moments when the ball seemed to bobble forever, and the ease with which it fell to Gooden made you believe this was not North Carolina's day.
FINAL GRADE: B-minus. Franklin was still producing impressive plays on his feet well into the fourth quarter, and North Carolina's brief offensive explosion in the third quarter kept it interesting. But the Tar Heels' unenthusiastic showing in general took some of the luster of this matchup. Missouri was decidedly dominant throughout the game, and there was very little in doubt after the second drive of the game. .
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