COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) James Franklin threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns before coming out early in the third quarter, helping Missouri take command after early struggles and whip Murray State 58-14 Saturday night in an opener that began in 98-degree heat.
Henry Josey had 113 yards on 13 carries with a 68-yard score in his first game back from a left knee injury that required two surgeries and sidelined him all last season. Russell Hansbrough had 104 yards on eight attempts with a pair of scores for Missouri, coming off a disappointing 5-7 record in its first SEC season.
Maikhail Miller threw three interceptions, two by E.J. Gaines, against a defense that stiffened after allowing two early touchdowns. Murray State faded quickly against its first SEC opponent since 2005.
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Miller, who transferred from Mississippi last month, threw a touchdown pass and caught one on a flea-flicker for a 14-13 lead with 3:58 to go in the first.
Missouri scored the last 17 points of the first half, recovering from a rough start on both sides of the ball against a school picked to finish tied for sixth in the FCS-level Ohio Valley Conference. Franklin was done for the evening after throwing two touchdown passes the first 5:09 after the break, a 37-yarder to Darius White and 4-yarder to L’Damian Washington to make it 44-14.
It’s the third career 300-yard game for Franklin, who was 26 for 38 and ended up 7 yards shy of his career best against Baylor in 2011. Missouri lost Franklin’s other two 300-yard efforts.
Josey outran a pair of defenders who had the angle on his burst down the sideline in the third quarter. He received a prolonged ovation during pre-game introductions and again after a 20-yard gain on his first carry.
Hansbrough had 101 yards on seven carries and two scores in the rocky first quarter. A turnover ended the opening drive when Bud Sasser fumbled after a catch and kicker Andrew Baggett had an extra-point kick blocked and missed a 30-yard field-goal attempt.
Murray State had 196 total yards and 11 first downs in the first quarter, needing 1:15 to go 59 yards on its opening drive capped by Miller’s 17-yard pass to Walter Powell. Miller spun away from Kony Ealy and strutted into the end zone on a 5-yard flea-flicker pass from wide receiver Jeremy Harness, a play that opened with a lateral pass, for a 14-13 lead late in the first quarter.
Missouri is 10-0 against FCS teams under coach Gary Pinkel, entering with an average score of 50-7, and beat Murray State 47-7 in 2006 in the only other game between the schools. Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel made his Missouri debut in that game with five touchdown passes, and attended Saturday night’s game.