Missouri earned the final spot in the Associated Press poll this week thanks to its 5-0 start and then justified the ranking by upsetting No. 7 Georgia 41-26 on the road Saturday.
Still undefeated (6-0 overall, 2-0 SEC) the question is; can the Tigers remain ranked and contend for the SEC East Division crown without starting quarterback James Franklin? Missouri's senior quarterback suffered a separated shoulder in the second half and watched from the sideline as his teammates finished off the win.
Coach Gary Pinkel confirmed the injury after the game but told reporters he did not know how long Franklin would be out. But later in the day a report from CBSSports writer Bruce Feldman said that Franklin might miss as much as six weeks, which would mean the Tigers would be without their starter and team leader for the rest of the regular season.
#Mizzou QB James Franklin is expected to be out for at least the next 6 wks, probably longer w a Grade 2 shoulder separation, per source.
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 12, 2013
If Feldman's information is correct, the Tigers will need freshman Maty Mauk to fill Franklin's rather large shoes. Mauk completed all three of his passes after replacing Franklin on Saturday, but Missouri coaches were clearly cautious in what they asked him to do. One of his passes came dangerously close to be intercepted.
Needless to say, Pinkel will be dealing with a huge drop off in the capabilities of his quarterback with Mauk under center instead of Franklin who had led the Tigers to a No. 7 ranking in total offense and No. 8 ranking in scoring offense prior to the Georgia game.
Missouri and Mauk will be tested in a big way next week when they play host to Florida, which boasts one of the best defenses in the nation.