Missouri quarterback James Franklin couldn't do much of anything for much of Saturday's game against Tennessee. By the end of the day, he couldn't be stopped.
Andrew Baggett kicked a 35-yard field goal in the fourth overtime period as Missouri rallied from a two-touchdown halftime deficit to beat Tennessee 51-48 at Neyland Stadium. Missouri forced overtime when Franklin threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham on a fourth-and-12 play with 47 seconds remaining.
Each team scored touchdowns on its first two overtime possessions, including a 5-yard run by Tennessee holder Tyler Drummer on a fake field-goal attempt. Each team reached the end zone again in the third overtime but failed to make its ensuing two-point conversion attempt.
Missouri's defense finally came through in the fourth overtime when safety Ian Simon broke up a fourth-and-3 pass to Zach Rogers from the Missouri 18.
Franklin was 2-of-8 for 18 yards and an interception in the first half, but he ended up throwing for 226 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 43 yards. All of his touchdown passes came in the final minute of regulation or overtime.
Kendial Lawrence added two touchdown runs and 153 rushing yards for Missouri (5-5, 2-5 SEC). Tyler Bray threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns for Tennessee (4-6, 0-6). Missouri and Tennessee had entered the day tied for the NCAA lead with 10 all-time overtime victories each.
Tennessee has now lost 13 of its last 14 SEC games, casting further doubt on the future of Volunteers coach Derek Dooley.
Tennessee entered the day having allowed the most points (35.4) and yards (483.1) per game of any team in the Southeastern Conference. The Vols were on pace to give up the most points per game of any Tennessee team since 1893. They were coming off a 55-48 victory over Troy in which they allowed 721 yards, the highest single-game total ever by a Tennessee opponent.
Dooley responded by taking a more active role in the defense. He promised major changes, which included having defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri work from the press box for the first time all season.
For one half anyway, the moves paid off better than anyone could have reasonably anticipated.
The Vols outgained Missouri 383-64 in the first half and took a 21-7 lead into the intermission. Missouri's offense didn't cross midfield until about 2 ½ minutes remained in the second quarter. The Tigers' lone first-half score came on Jimmie Hunt's 87-yard kickoff return.
Then came the second half.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Lawrence delivered a 77-yard touchdown run that cut Tennessee's lead to 21-14. After Tennessee extended its lead to 28-14, Lawrence added a 1-yard touchdown run later in the third quarter on a drive kept alive by a fourth-and-1 conversion.
Missouri finally tied the game with 47 seconds left when Franklin scrambled around on a fourth-and-12 play until he found Green-Beckham all alone in the left corner of the end zone. Earlier in the drive, Franklin had thrown a 17-yard completion to Marcus Lucas on fourth-and-9 from the Tennessee 40.
Franklin would pretty much get his way the rest of the day.