Northwestern 35 vs. Auburn 38 Final/Overtime January 1st 2010
By West Lamy
The Auburn Tigers were composed in overtime as they stopped a Northwestern Wildcats rally in the 2009 Outback Bowl.
Wes Byrum kicked a 21-yard field goal to cap off a 6-play 21-yard short drive as the Tigers came up with a win. Northwestern’s last play in the extra session sent backup kicker Steve Flaherty onto the field to try to force a second overtime. Instead a fake field goal play was attempted, and failed, when holder Zeke Markshausen took the snap, ran right end and was forced out of bounds by Auburn’s Neiko Thorpe at the 2-yard line.
Northwestern regular kicker Stefan Demos was injured early in the overtime. Instead of keeping starting quarterback Mike Kafka in the game for the game winning TD the play call was “heater” signaling the fake field goal. “It was a modern day fumble-rooski, we wish that we held the snap a bit longer, the Tigers did a great job defending the play however I would do it again” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. Stefan Demos missed 3 field goals in the game, the most valuable one a 44-yard field goal attempt which hooked wide right with no time remaining- which would have won it in regulation.
Auburn (8-5) finished its first season under Gene Chizik with the second-most wins by a first-year coach in school history. The Tigers defense jumped off to quick start behind corner Walter McFadden. “I’m an Auburn man and I wanted to be remembered,” said McFadden. The corner had two interceptions in the first quarter, setting up Auburn’s first touchdown and giving the Tigers a 14-0 lead when he broke on a throw intended for Markshausen in the end zone and returned it the length of the field.
Northwestern (8-5) fell to 1-7 all-time in postseason games. The only win came against California in the 1949 Rose Bowl. There were 18 Outback Bowl records broken and 10 records tied in today’s 24th edition of the game. “The records for five interceptions is the one that I am least proud about, if I took control and manage the game a little better we may have come out with a win” said quarterback Mike Kafka. Kafka threw for a career-best 566 yards and four touchdowns. He rallied Northwestern from a 14-point deficit in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Wildcats lost a chance to win it in regulation.
Coming into the Outback Bowl match up, Northwestern’s success in the postseason was the hot button storyline. The Wildcats came in with a 60-year bowl winless streak. They made their first trip to a January bowl game since 1997. “We were coming down to Tampa to win. We felt the stars were aligned but we came short. We will find a way to get over this mountain top,” said coach Fitzgerald.Follow paulmbanks