Friday, 10 June 2011

Gene Chizik's Top 5 Auburn Games: No3 - Northwestern

After Auburn finished 7-5 in 2009, they got invited to the Outback Bowl to play the Northwestern wildcats, which from this Auburn fans point of view was described as a "squeaker" but from a neutral perspective I'm sure it was viewed as a great game. Auburn rolled into Tampa coming off a close loss to their bitter rivals Alabama, which was viewed as Auburn's best performance of the season. Can't disagree there.

Auburn got off to a quick start, as early in the 1st quarter Kodi Burns snuck into the end zone to give Auburn the early lead. The Tigers then secured their second touchdown of the game when Walt McFadden intercepted an end zone pass from Mike Kafka, and ended up running it all the way back to Northwestern's end zone. Auburn was cruising...

That was up until Andrew Brewer for Northwestern caught a 39 yard pass from Mike Kafka to cut the lead back to 7, and suddenly the Wildcats were back in the game!

3 minutes into the 2nd quarter, Quindarius Carr grabbed a 49 yard touchdown from Chris Todd to extend the lead once again. As Auburn was now up by two touch downs they should have held the large lead, however just after halftime Northwestern hit two touchdown's to tie it up at 21-21. Was Auburn about to blow another lead?

Going into the fourth quarter, Auburn had to close out this game somehow and we thought Ben Tate did that when he ran in two touchdowns, both from under 10 yards out. Auburn was up 35-21 with 7 and a half minutes to go, and that should have been the end of the game. Think again.

Mike Kafka ran in a 2 yard touchdown with 3:20 to go in the fourth. The Wildcats scored AGAIN from an 18 yard pass to Sidney Stewart, to tie it up at 35 a piece. However with seconds remaining in the fourth, Nortthwestern's kicker Stefan Demos has the chance to win the game for the Cats but hooked his FG wide right with no time remaining.

Then came overtime.

Byrum gave Auburn the 38-35 lead when he kicked a 44-yard field goal with the first possession of over time. Northwestern had their chance to win, but that was thought to be over when Mike Kafka fumbled the football, which by then the Tigers thought had wrapped up the game, however the fumble was over turned.

Four plays later, Northwestern could have tied it up by Demos' 37 yard field goal hit the upright and Auburn then thought they had it wrapped up again, but a flag was thrown on Aairon Savage for roughing the kicker. It left the Wildcats without their kicker as he got injured on the play.

Then came the wackiest moment. Instead of attempting to tie the game, reciever Mike Markhausen took a handoff between the legs from holder Dan Persa and circled around the right to try and win the game there and then, but Auburn's Neiko Thorpe stopped him on the 2-yard line. Auburn had finally won the game.

This was one of the wackiest Auburn games I ever saw, and I genuinely thought Auburn was in trouble after they tied it up 21 a piece by the end of the third, however after a bit of luck and strange play-calling Auburn came away with the victory, and Gene Chizik earned his first bowl win as Auburn head coach.