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Countdown to Kickoff: 12 Days

The actual first game of 2010. Scene setter!

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We should’ve known that the 2010 season would’ve been such a crazy campaign when the actual calendar year began with one of the wildest bowl games in recent memory.

Auburn met Northwestern in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day 2010, capping what ended up being a pretty solid year in Gene Chizik’s inaugural season on the Plains. The Tigers were coming off of the near upset of top-ranked Alabama, and got some immediate help from the defense in building an early lead against Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats.

A Kodi Burns touchdown opened things up, but then Walt McFadden’s coast-to-coast 100-yard pick six gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead. Northwestern struck back, but Auburn still ended up ahead 21-7 at the half. The third quarter saw the Wildcats take to the air and hit big play after big play, but Auburn hung in on offense, thanks in large part to the Chris Todd and Darvin Adams connection, which combined for 12 catches and 142 yards.

I’m sure you remember the end of the game, where Auburn thought they’d won several times, but Northwestern somehow found chance after chance to come back. Only at the very end did Auburn rebuff them for the final time on a fake field goal attempt in overtime.

If you don’t recall, this game was WILD. Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka threw five interceptions, but still set all-time bowl records with 47 completions and 78 attempts. Auburn nearly coughed up a 35-21 lead late in the game thanks to fumbles by Ben Tate and Demond Washington, even though the Tigers blocked an extra point to force the Wildcats to convert a two-point try late in the contest.

Northwestern even missed a game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired, and in overtime, Auburn thought they won THREE times. First, a sack of Kafka resulted in a fumble with Auburn leading 38-35. The Tigers rushed the field. A review said Kafka was down before fumbling. Okay.

Then, Northwestern attempted the game-tying field goal. Their kicker doinked it off the upright. Auburn rushed the field. A running into the kicker penalty gave Northwestern new life. Okay.

Then on their next field goal attempt, the holder tried to race around the right end for the game-winning touchdown, but Neiko Thorpe saved the day with a tackle just in time, and Auburn rushed the field for the third (and correct) time. 38-35, final score.

I have a feeling that you’re going to like tomorrow’s Countdown article. Something to do with the number eleven.

War Eagle!