The Auburn Tigers' defensive secondary reminded fans of felines of a different nature, cat burglars. They stole not only the ball, but also the spotlight as the Tigers survived a late rally by Northwestern to win the longest and possibly the most exciting game of the New Year's bowl fare, 38-35.
In all, the Tigers intercepted five passes, two of which were in the Northwestern end zone to stop drives and one was returned for an Auburn touchdown for a dramatic 14-point swing of what could have been.
Auburn almost returned the favor with two fumbles and two interceptions of their own and Northwestern certainly would not go down without a fight.
In a record setting performance, Northwestern QB Mike Kafka threw for 532 yards, despite the five interceptions, and Northwestern also owned time of possession by almost 10 minutes. But in the end, it was not the Gus Malzahn that saved the day as much as the swarming and opportunistic Auburn defense.
The game had almost everything a bowl game should have, drama, comebacks, hard fought plays with players from both sides being escorted back to the sidelines and a nail biting ending.
Auburn ended the regular season at 7-5 and Northwestern came into the game at 8-4, but both left the game with identical 8-5 records.
The offseason for both should be a good one with both teams having a lot of momentum to build on as a result of this close, great game.