The Tiger offense snapped into action on its second possession and drove 66 yards on 10 plays.
Arkansas State took over from its own 20-yard line and drove down the field again for its second field goal, putting Mizzou in a 6-0 hole with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
Enough was enough though, and Russell Hansbrough jump-started the offense with a 42-yard rush on Mizzou’s first play of its next possession. Marcus Murphy followed that up with a 19-yarder of his own two plays later and then finished off the drive when he found a hole and ran it in from 8 yards out.
Strong play from the Mizzou front seven stalled the Arkansas State offense and forced a punt on its next drive. Franklin took over from there and connected with Dorial Green-Beckham for a 68-yard touchdown on the third play of the drive that ignited the crowd and the sideline.
The Red Wolves fired back, though, for a 17-yard touchdown to make the score 14-13.
Right on cue, the bend-but-don’t break Mizzou defense came up big, just as they’ve done all season long. They forced the Arkansas State quarterback to scramble backward and dump the ball off to his running back, who was tackled for a 12-yard loss to end the half and preserve the Tiger lead.
In the third quarter, ASU responded with a field goal to take the lead on its first possession.
The Tiger defense put the clamps down after that, forcing a punt on the ensuing Red Wolves possession and only allowing 94 yards for the remainder of the game.
Mizzou’s next drive was all Franklin, as he completed five passes for 53 yards and a touchdown, while also adding an 18-yard scramble, to put the Tigers up 20-16.
After they took the lead, Mizzou never looked back.
The Tigers scored on their next three possessions on a 1-yard run by Henry Josey, a 9-yard run by Franklin and a 5-yard catch by Green-Beckham, his second of the day, en route to a dominating fourth quarter and their third 40-point performance of the season.
On the day, Franklin was 20 of 29 for 255 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball very effectively—to the tune of five attempts for 33 yards and a touchdown.
Green-Beckham continues to live up to his five-star hype, as he hauled in four balls for 95 yards to go along with his two scores. He now has four touchdowns on the year, which is tied for third in the SEC. L’Damian Washington also caught a pass in the end zone and had a team-high six catches for 67 yards.
The Tigers’ three-headed rushing attack flourished once again. All three running backs averaged better than seven yards per carry. Hansbrough led the trio with eight rushes for 96 yards and Josey and Murphy each had six carries for 52 and 45 yards, respectively.
And of course, we can’t forget about defense. Lineman Michael Sam earned himself the SEC Defensive Line Player of the Week award with his three sacks, but he wasn’t the only playmaker on that side of the ball. Linebacker Andrew Wilson was all over the place. He racked up 17 tackles, and defensive back E.J. Gaines extended Mizzou’s national best streak of consecutive games with a turnover to 34 with a fourth quarter interception.
The Tigers hit the road for their SEC opener on Saturday as they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville at 6:30 pm. The game will air on Comcast Sports South.