TAMPA, Fla. (Sports Network) - Wes Byrum kicked a 21-yard field goal in overtime and Auburn held on for a wild 38-35 win over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.
Chris Todd completed 20-of-31 passes for 235 yards with a touchdown and Ben Tate rushed for 108 yards on 20 carries and two scores for Auburn (8-5), which snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 20-13-2 in all-time bowl games.
Quindarius Carr had a 46-yard touchdown reception, while Darvin Adams caught 12 passes for 144 yards for the Tigers. Warren McFadden had two interceptions with one returned for a 100-yard touchdown.
Mike Kafka threw for a career-high 532 yards on 47-of-78 attempts with four touchdowns and five interceptions and also rushed for a score for Northwestern (8-5), which closed out the regular season with three straight wins and was attempting to with their first bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl.
Andrew Brewer had eight grabs for 133 yards with two touchdowns and Drake Dunsmore added nine catches for 121 yards and a score for the Wildcats. Sidney Stewart also had a big game with 10 catches for 97 yards and a TD.
After Stefan Demos missed a 44-yard field goal as time expired to end the fourth quarter, Auburn got the ball first and went ahead 38-35 on Byrum's 21- yarder.
The Wildcats got a gift opportunity when Demos missed a short field goal attempt that would have ended the game, but Auburn was assessed a personal foul penalty for roughing the kicker and the ball was moved to the nine.
Following three minimal gains, Steve Flaherty came on for Demos and instead of trying a chip shot, the Wildcats tried a fake when Zeke Markshausen kept the ball, but was stopped at the two-yard line to end the game.
Auburn jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead early in the contest. First, Burns banged in from a yard out for the score after McFadden gave the Tigers good field position with a pick.
On the Wildcats ensuing possession, Kafka marched the offense down to the Auburn six, but on third down, McFadden jumped in front of the intended receiver, picked it off in the end zone and sprinted down the far sideline for the touchdown.
Northwestern answered on its next try as Kafka connected with Brewer for a 39- yard score with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Tigers put together a five-play, 79-yard drive in the early stages of the second period to go ahead 21-7. Todd faked a handoff and found Carr down the middle of the field for a 46-yard score with a shade under nine minutes remaining in the half.
With Northwestern facing a 2nd-and-goal from the four with under a minute remaining, Kafka was picked off by T'Sharvan Bell in the end zone and Auburn was up 21-7 at the half.
Neither team could get much going offensively for much of the third, until late in the quarter when the Wildcats struck for a pair of quick touchdowns to even things at 21.
First, it was Kafka connecting with Brewer for a 35-yard score with 2:42 left in the quarter. Then after Auburn went three-and-out, Kafka hit Dunsmore with a short pass and the big running back rumbled 66 yards for a touchdown that deadlocked the game with 27 seconds left.
Bell's second interception of the game set up Auburn at midfield. Todd then completed five passes that got the Tigers down the five-yard line before Tate ran around left tackle for the touchdown to give Auburn the lead.
After Northwestern failed to get anything going on its ensuing possession, Auburn started at its 35 after the punt and needed only three plays to reach the end zone again. Terrell Zachery ran for 50 yards on the second play and Tate ran it up the middle for the score to make it a 35-21 game. Tate was then whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct for excessive celebration and the Wildcats took advantage.
Kafka ploughed up the middle for a two-yard touchdown that finished off a 15- play, 58-yard drive. However, the extra point attempt was blocked and it remained 35-27.
Following Northwestern's failed onside kick attempt, the Tigers attempted to run out the clock.
Tate, however, fumbled on the second play of the set and the Wildcats recovered at their own 31. Northwestern quickly got inside Auburn territory, but were facing a 4th-and-3 from the 33. As Nick Fairly attempted to sack Kafka, he grabbed the quarterback's facemask, resulting in a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Then on the next play Kafka hit a wide open Stewart for an 18-yard touchdown. A Brewer-to-Brendan Mitchell two-point conversion tied the game at 35 with just over a minute to play.
Desmond Washington then fumbled the ensuing kickoff at midfield after a 43- yard return and Northwestern recovered. The Wildcats got in position for Demos 44-yard field goal try with three ticks remaining, but the kicker missed wide right and the game went into overtime.