James Franklin was a really terrific college quarterback. We know that now.
But heading into the Tigers 8th game of the season in 2011, we weren’t completely sure, so much so that Bill had to write an “In Defense Of...” piece for a sophomore starter after just seven games. Mizzou was 3-4 with wins over Miami (OH), Western Illinois, and Iowa State. Their losses were to good teams (Arizona State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State), but Missouri was showing to be inconsistent offensively and it’s always easy to point towards the quarterback in those situations.
On October 22nd, Mizzou got shellacked by the Oklahoma State Cowboys at home and headed to College Station for a game against a ranked opponent. Things weren’t exactly looking positive on what would be the Tigers’ last Big 12 season.
The season was teetering on the brink of collapse behind a sophomore quarterback who most fans didn’t know what to expect from at that point.
So all James Franklin did was beat Texas A&M, win five of their last six games, and set a different expectation for what he could be as the quarterback at Missouri. And it didn’t take long for Franklin to let Mizzou fans (and the A&M defense) know exactly the kind of player he was.
It was the first score of the game, but it set the tone. Franklin’s ability to absorb a hit and bounce off it set the tone for the game, and it was a game which changed the momentum of the entire season.
Fortunately, we still have the ZouDave highlights for the entire game:
Franklin would go on to finish the year strong, struggle through an injury-riddled junior campaign, and lead Missouri to one of its best seasons ever in 2013. He’ll forever be remembered for his leadership on that 2013 team, and I’ll always remember the time he bulldozed Texas A&M defenders in a huge road win as a sophomore.