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Best Mizzou Duos: James Franklin & Maty Mauk took Tigers fans on a magical ride in 2013

Mizzou’s best season in the SEC could have gone off the rails if not for a successful month of starts from Maty Mauk.

Missouri v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The natural inclination when thinking about football “duos” is to think back to the best quarterback and wide receiver combinations. For Mizzou fans, you recall the great pass rush duos. Maybe you consider some of the great one-two punches the Tigers have had at running back.

But the single most impactful “duo” on one of the best Mizzou teams in the last two decades was the quarterback combination for the Tigers in 2013. James Fanklin and Maty Mauk combined in 2013 to produce one of the most explosive offenses in Mizzou history.

I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed watching Mizzou football as much as I did during that 2013 season. I’m sure there will be some who read this and think I’m crazy, because 2007 was magical in every possible way. While true, it was also somewhat expected. The Tigers were coming off a 2006 season in which the team was on the cusp of having a special year with an all-time great quarterback. They made good on their promise in 2007.

The 2013 team came out of nowhere. Mizzou had just finished 5-7 in a debut SEC season marred by injury. Tigers fans knew the team had talent, but there were legitimate questions as to whether the team had the requisite talent to compete at a high level in the best conference in the land.

Those questions were put to rest rather quickly. The Tigers’ offense averaged more than 45 points per game in their opening six games games of the season. They scored at least 38 points in each of those six outings, tying the program record for the most such consecutive games in any individual season, according to Sports Reference.

Franklin was on fire, posting more than 1,400 passing yards and 280 rushing yards to go along with 15 total touchdowns in his first five games. The Tigers were off to a 5-0 start with momentum going into a game at Georgia.

That’s when everything changed.

Franklin and the Tigers got out to a 28-10 lead against Georgia. Franklin had nearly 200 yards from scrimmage. And then he separated his shoulder.

One of the most famous play calls in program history was - in part - a result of Franklin’s injury. The Tigers called “Colt 45” and L’Damian Washington threw the 40-yard touchdown to Bud Sasser to finish off one of the biggest wins in program history.

The win was in the books, but the next month was up in the air. Franklin missed the next four games against Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Florida was ranked in the top 25. So was South Carolina. Going 1-1 in those two games would be a minor miracle with your backup redshirt freshman quarterback filling in.

His performance early against Florida erased most fans’ concerns. His first pass attempt was a 41-yard completion down the right sideline to L’Damian Washington. His second pass attempt was a 20-yard touchdown to Bud Sasser. Two throws, one touchdown and the Tigers took a 7-0 lead less than 30 seconds into the game.

It was a sign of things to come.

Mauk was everything the Tigers could ask for, and then some. Mizzou went 3-1 while scoring an average of 35 points per game with Mauk at the helm. He picked up a huge victory against Florida and was an all-time Connor Shaw comeback away from starting his Mizzou career 2-0 against two ranked opponents.

Mauk finished his four game stint as the Tigers quarterback with 900 passing yards, 165 rushing yards, 11 total touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Franklin earned his starting gig back for the final four games of the season and went 3-1 down the stretch with his lone loss coming in the SEC Championship Game against Auburn (we’re not discussing that game here).

Franklin and Mauk is certainly an unconventional “duo,” but without those two putting together a special 2013 season, the Tigers wouldn’t have been able to put together a season to remember.