Dragged myself out of bed just in time to catch a cool Capital One Bowl Week montage, and the Outback Bowl kickoff.
Some excitement right out of the gate here, as Auburn gets a tip drill INT off of Scott Concannon's fingertips and the ball on the 32. Northwestern's defense is going to have their hands full with Auburn RB Ben Tate. He's a powerful downhill runner.
1st Quarter, 12:25 to go: Touchdown, Auburn. Kodi Burns punches it in from the one yard line. Auburn runs a no-huddle, which Northwestern's defense normally only sees while they're on the sidelines watching their own offense. 0-7, Tigers.
Ahh, the Outback Bowl commercial! Outback CEO Jeff Smith appears to be watching the Outback Bowl from the... bar of an Outback Steakhouse? Really? Whatever, he's happy to be there.
The announcing team today is Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, and Chris Spielman.
Northwestern gets the ball back.
1Q, 8:05: 4th & 1 on the Auburn 31. Timeout, Northwestern. Go for it? Kick a field goal? It's 65 and rainy in Tampa. (16 and sunny in Bloomington... why am I not at this game?)
First down, Kafka rollout to Stewart! Northwestern dinkin' and dunkin' their way down the field.
Oooooooohhhh.... that's not good. Auburn corner Walter McFadden got the ball in the end zone off Zeke Markshausen's fingertips and took it all the way down the sideline... touchdown. His second INT, both off Wildcat hands, and we're only midway through the first quarter. 102 yard pick-n-grin.
That was the seventeenth play of the drive for Northwestern. Not. Good. 14-0, Tigers.
Touchdown, Kafka to Brewer! Corner of the end zone. 14-7. Northwestern's defense follows it up by forcing a three and out, and gets the ball back. Can you recover from two first quarter INTs? McFadden's excessive celebration penalty set up fairly good field position, and Mike Kafka is really looking sharp.
It's worth noting that much like Jay Cutler this year, neither of those picks was really his fault.
(From the announcers: "Florida gets a chance to send Urban Meyer off to his rest with a win. Jesus, don't bury him yet, guys!)
Outback Steakhouse commercial count: 4. Again, it's the first quarter.
Stefan Demos misses a 48-yard FG attempt.
Bob Griese, your thoughts on the Texas Tech/Mike Leach debacle? "Well, you don't treat a kid with a concussion by putting him in a closet..." Yes, Bob. That's the problem.
According to Outback Steakhouse, I can get a six ounce sirloin, three lobster tails, and a famous side (steamed vegetables! Score!) for $14.95. If it's a langostine lobster, does that really count? Regardless, I'm goin' Outback tonight. Using my Capital One card. After telling my friends from my Konica Minolta and/or Nokia phone... yeesh, maybe I should tape delay and avoid these commercials.
Northwestern just got bailed out on a failed fourth down conversion review. Ball on the 38, but Drake Dunsmore gets stuffed on the inside delay toss, and Demos rugby-punts it to the 20. Auburn ball again. Let's make a play, defense.
Just spotted Corey Wootton (I can NEVER remember how to spell that name... Wooten? Wooton? Two T's, Mark.) on the sideline by Fitz. He is a huge guy. If he goes later than the mid-second round this spring, he's a steal. Why isn't he playing?
Auburn WR Darius Carr just pushed off Brendan Smith and caught a 46-yard TD from Chris Todd. Offensive pass interference? Apparently not. 21-7, Auburn. Damn. Looks like my projection may be a wee bit off... nothin' new there.
2Q, 8:00 Another Northwestern drive founders near their own 40. It's raining again in Tampa. Looks warm... sigh.
Good time to NOT let this game get out of hand if you're Northwestern.
A nice montage of Auburn running backs through the years; Bo Jackson, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Rudi Johnson James Brooks... Ben Tate is #5 on the all-time list. Impressive.
Auburn reverse, and Tate gets the first down, carrying Northwestern defenders across the line. The bench is "fired up." Again, NU needs a stop here.
Injury Timeout, and it's Vincent "Bo" Jackson headlining the obligatory Auburn commercial! In response, Northwestern's ad features a large purple door. Darnell Autry, where you at? We couldn't get Wilbon, either?
We're down to two minutes in the second half, and Northwestern faces third-and-long deep in their own territory after finally stopping that Auburn offense. Timeout, Auburn. Kafka and the Wildcats really need a first down here, if nothing else to keep War Eagle off the field and go into the locker room with no further damage...
Long ball, triple coverage on Brewer, way overthrown. Punt upcoming. Raining more heavily. I think this favors the Auburn running attack in the second half. Demos gets an awful punt which the officials are spotting... on the 24? The 36? An 18-yard punt and you can freakin' BET that Auburn comes out running.
Option toss to Auburn's 'wildcat' quarterback Kodi Burns... long pass...
INTERCEPTION, Sherrick McManus! And Northwestern gets it back in lousy field position. Let's do something, boys!
Walter McFadden, who has been Auburn's playmaker with those two picks, is limping, but out there. Big reception to Stewart around midfield, and he gets one foot in. This should stand up in review. Still 21-7.
As the commentators note, why didn't Auburn just run the ball? Bob Griese: "How dare you question [Auburn OC] Gus Malazhan?" Well, Bob, he just turned the ball over on what should have been an easy 3.
Play stands, Northwestern is driving with 1:04 to go. Timeout.
Auburn end zone INT. Mike Kafka is doing his best Jay Cutler now, with two redzone INTs.
Halftime, and Northwestern trails Auburn 21-7. Story of the game? Kafka's three interceptions. Not a good half. It's amazing that the Wildcats are still in this game.
Halftime Show: Mike Leach has some very strong words on Adam and Craig James. It's amazing how much this guy sounds like Bobby Knight. Wonder if they went huntin' together down there.
Just for fun, here's a list of Northwestern's draft prospects in 2010, according to cbssports.com:
Corey Wootton: No. 9 overall, No. 1 DE (!!!)
Sherrick McManus: No. 126 overall, No. 16 CB
Brad Phillips: No. 187 overall, No. 9 FS
Mike Kafka: No. 207, No. 11 QB (ESPN has him as #15)
... WR Andrew Brewer, SS Brendan Smith, FB Brendan Mitchell, OT Kurt Mattes, WR Zeke Markshausen, and DT Marshall Thomas are also listed as free-agent calibre.
Ben Tate: No. 89, No. 5 RB
Antonio Coleman: No. 204, No. 20 OLB
Walter McFadden: No. 303, No. 31 CB
DT Jake Ricks, QB Chris Todd, TE Tommy Trott, LS Clayton Crofoot and others are also listed. Tommy Trott? Clayton Crofoot? Zeke Markshausen would fit right in on this squad.
It's 12:49, and the Capital One Bowl will be starting in about ten minutes, along with the Gator Bowl and Bobby Bowden's Swan Song. I'll go ahead and start up a parallel live blog for the 1 PM Games.
Also, No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 6 West Virginia is coming up in CBB after the Outback, which sounds like a must-watch.
From Greg Kinczewski, who is at the Outback Bowl in Tampa [via Blackberry]:
"I don't know whether to laugh or cry. We make two trips inside the ten and come away with negative seven points. Oh well, the defense should be well rested and hope springs eternal."
A well-rested defense could be big against Ben Tate and the Auburn offense in the second half.
No more mistakes, Kafka. NU is still very much alive. Somehow.
Consolidating live blog into post with Capital One and Gator bowls, which have now started. You can read above.