SHREVEPORT, La. -- James Franklin's hard running and timely passing led Missouri to an easy win in its final game as a member of the Big 12. It also gives the Tigers plenty of hope heading into their new home in the Southeastern Conference.
Franklin ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, and the Tigers easily beat North Carolina 41-24 in the Independence Bowl on Monday night.
Missouri (8-5) ends the season on a four-game winning streak for the first time since 1965. The Tigers will join the SEC next fall and showed one reason they should be a factor immediately: The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Franklin, a sophomore who generally did as he pleased in both the running and passing games.
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Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Franklin has just started to realize his potential.
"After the game, I gave him a hug and said congratulations," Pinkel said. "Then I went back and asked 'What happens when you get really good?' ... He kind of gave me a look, but that's a huge compliment."
Franklin, named the game's offensive Most Valuable Player, rushed for 142 yards and threw for 132 despite less than ideal conditions in the cold and rain at Independence Stadium. He led the Tigers to 31 first-half points -- an Independence Bowl record.
For North Carolina (7-6), a season that started with a promising 5-1 record ends with a lopsided loss. The Tar Heels lost five of their final seven under interim coach Everett Withers, who leaves to become defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer.
North Carolina had the Atlantic Coast Conference's second-best rushing defense, giving up just 106.2 yards per game. But the Tigers found plenty of running room with Franklin and Kendial Lawrence, repeatedly gashing the Tar Heels for big gains.
"(Frankin) is just such a dynamic guy running and throwing that you have to respect both," Withers said. "I always count the quarterback as an extra running back in the spread and that's exactly what he was."
Lawrence rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown as the Tigers racked up 337 yards on the ground.
North Carolina's poor defense wasted a productive game by quarterback Bryn Renner, who threw for 317 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. But Renner couldn't offset the Tar Heels' anemic running game, which produced just 36 yards.
Freshman running back Giovani Bernard rushed for 31 yards -- more than 70 yards less than his season average.
Withers said he didn't think the program's upcoming coaching change had any bearing on the outcome. The Tar Heels hired Southern Mississippi's Larry Fedora last week.
"We've had issues for two years so I don't know why tonight would be any distraction," Withers said.
Missouri's mascot -- Truman the Tiger -- shattered most of the original Independence Bowl trophy before the game started in a pre-game accident. The Tigers were more than happy to claim the replacement.
Pinkel didn't shy away from the importance of the game, saying the result would be "a trivia question after I'm long gone."
North Carolina scored first, with Renner hitting Dwight Jones for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 12:12 left in the first quarter. That would be the high point for the Tar Heels.
Missouri responded with a 40-yard touchdown pass from receiver T.J. Moe to Wes Kemp after a lateral from Franklin. Moe hadn't thrown a touchdown pass since his days as a high school quarterback in suburban St. Louis, and it was just his second complete pass of the season.
"I saw the corner bite and I just let her go," Moe said.
The Tigers scored again on Franklin's 2-yard run to take a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter. The touchdown was set up by Franklin's 16-yard pass to L'Damian Washington that put the Tigers at the 2-yard line. Washington grew up in Shreveport, just a few miles from Independence Stadium.
And Missouri just kept piling on.
The Tigers scored two touchdowns and a field goal during the second quarter to take a 31-10 halftime lead.
North Carolina had a glimmer of hope late in the third when Jheranie Boyd caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Renner to pull the Tar Heels to 34-17, but Missouri responded minutes later with Franklin's second touchdown run and the rout continued.
It was over when... Missouri scored on all five of its first-half drives to put North Carolina away early.
Gameball goes to... James Franklin, whose dual-threat ability kept the Tar Heels on its toes.
Stat of the game... 192-13. Missouri dominated in the first half, rushing for 192 yards to UNC's 13.
Dwight Jones 22 Yd Pass From Bryn Renner (Thomas Moore Kick)
Wes Kemp 40 Yd Pass From T.J. Moe (Trey Barrow Kick)
James Franklin 2 Yd Run (Trey Barrow Kick)
Trey Barrow 31 Yd
Jerrell Jackson 8 Yd Pass From James Franklin (Trey Barrow Kick)
Kendial Lawrence 9 Yd Run (Trey Barrow Kick)
Thomas Moore 21 Yd
Jheranie Boyd 44 Yd Pass From Bryn Renner (Thomas Moore Kick)
James Franklin 2 Yd Run (Trey Barrow Kick)
Trey Barrow 26 Yd
Erik Highsmith 17 Yd Pass From Bryn Renner (Thomas Moore Kick)
With its win against UNC, Missouri won four straight games to end the season for the first time since 1965.
Missouri finished with 17 rushes of 10+ yards, tying the most by any team against a FBS opponent this season. It's also the most by the Tigers in a game since at least 2004.
Most Rushes of 10+ Yards
Single Game vs FBS Opponent, This Season
Missouri vs North Carolina 17<< Monday
Toledo vs W. Michigan 17 Nov. 8
Baylor vs Iowa St. 17 Oct. 8
Georgia Tech vs Kansas 17 Sept. 17
Georgia Tech vs Middle Tenn. St. 17 Sept. 10
>>Most by Missouri since at least 2004
James Franklin had 1 pass TD and 2 rush TD vs UNC. It is his 5th game with at least 1 pass TD and 2 rush TD this season, tying Kansas State's Collin Klein for the most such games in FBS this season.
Dwight Jones had 1 TD catch vs Missouri and it was his 12th this season, tying the Tar Heels single-season TD receptions record set by Hakeem Nicks in 2008.
Bryn Renner threw 3 TD in the loss to Missouri. He finished the season with 26 pass TD, the most in a single season in school history. The previous record of 23 was set by Chris Keldorf in 1996.