COLUMBIA, Mo. He stood, sidelined again, as a spectator in the final seconds of a loss that brought more worry than any before this fall, and James Franklin limped forward much like his team.
The Missouri junior quarterback played two series Saturday, leading to six points, but a strained left MCL sustained early in the first quarter of the Tigers' 19-15 defeat to Vanderbilt produced this grim reality: A season that began with focus on a Southeastern Conference transition could become a trainwreck, and Franklin's value is more obvious than ever.
The quarterback shuffled toward an end zone in a black T-shirt and matching sweatpants, out at least another week, and nothing about Missouri's season appeared certain. A male voice over the public-address system boomed, "Join us next Saturday when your Tigers take on Alabama!" and the message invoked dread.
"There's no magic, at least I don't have it," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who saw Franklin miss a victory over Arizona State o...