Missouri carries momentum into SEC by stomping Heels

Missouri is already doing its best impersonation of an SEC school by blowing out an ACC team in a bowl game.

James Franklin ran for two touchdowns and threw another, and Missouri broke a school scoring record for a bowl game and spoiled Everett Withers’ final game as North Carolina’s head coach with a 41-24 win in the Independence Bowl on Monday in Shreveport, La.

The Tigers (8-5) closed the season with four consecutive wins for the first time since 1965 to finish off their sixth consecutive eight-win season. They have won two Independence Bowl titles in six years – they beat South Carolina in 2005.

North Carolina came in with the nation’s 14th-best run defense, allowing 106.2 yards per game, but Franklin alone topped that number, rushing for 142 of Missouri’s 343 yards on the ground.

The success on the ground was nothing new for Missouri, which went over 3,000 yards rushing for the season for just the third time since 1958.

The Tar Heels (7-6) lost four of their last six regular-season games, and they stumbled out of the gates in their bowl game, too.

North Carolina scored on its first drive, then watched Missouri reel off 31 consecutive points before a Tar Heels field goal on the last play of the half cut it to 31-10.

Unlike the Tigers, the Tar Heels were unable to get their run game going. Giovani Bernard, who entered with a North Carolina freshman record 1,222 rushing yards, was limited to 31 yards on 13 carries.

Missouri, which heads to the SEC next season, has won all three meetings with the Tar Heels, who haven’t beaten a current Big 12 team since 1986.

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