TAMPA, Fla. — Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams may have turned in the quietest Outback Bowl MVP performance in the game’s history.
Adams caught 12 passes for 142 yards in the Tigers’ 38-35 win against Northwestern, a major factor despite being kept out of the end zone in the shootout.
“I just appreciate all of the coaches … giving me a chance to catch all those balls,” he said.
The sophomore’s 12 receptions tied the Outback Bowl record held by Purdue’s Chris Daniels in 2000 and Georgia’s Hines Ward in 1998 (Northwestern’s Zeke Markshausen reached that mark Friday as well).
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Adams also finished with 60 receptions this season, breaking Auburn’s single-season mark. The previous record of 58 was set by Willie Gosha (1995) and Frank Sanders (1994).
He thinks he could have had one more added to his total. Referees ruled what appeared to be a catch on a low pass thrown on fourth down in the second quarter incomplete.
“I wrapped my arms around it,” Adams said. “But the officials called it incomplete, so we had to go with it.”
Auburn and Northwestern combined to break 18 Outback Bowl records and tie 10 more.
The 73 points scored broke the previous mark of 68 set by Michigan and Florida in 2003.
The teams also combined for a record 1,050 yards of offense, topping the previous mark by 121.
Individually, Wildcats quarterback Mike Kafka broke or tied seven of them, including total offense (566 yards), passing yards (532), passes attempted (78), completions (47), touchdown passes (4) and interceptions (5).
The Tigers did some showboating in Friday’s win. Coach Gene Chizik wasn’t pleased with it.
Auburn was twice flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after touchdowns, part of a 12-penalty afternoon that cost the Tigers 120 yards.
Cornerback Walt McFadden was penalized for high-stepping into the end zone at the end of his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Running back Ben Tate drew an easy flag after a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter by dunking the football like a basketball over the goal post.
“We had some personal fouls out there that were absolutely, 100 percent uncalled for,” Chizik said. “I don’t like it. I don’t like anything about it. … So there were some things that were disappointing in there and we shouldn’t have had to win it that way.”
Two other personal foul penalties kept the Wildcats’ comeback hopes alive. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley accidentally swiped Kafka’s facemask, negating a 17-yard sack on a fourth-down play that would have sealed the victory in regulation.
In overtime, cornerback T’Sharvan Bell was flagged for roughing the kicker after Northwestern’s Stefan Demos hit the upright with a 37-yard field goal attempt.
Big man Tate
Despite the excessive celebration penalty, Tate finished his college career with a big day. The senior had 20 carries for 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
That gave Tate 1,362 rushing yards this season, the fourth-best single-season mark in Auburn history, moving past James Brooks (1980), Carnell Williams (2003), Kenny Irons (2005) and Stephen Davis (1994).
Tate finished his career with 3,321 rushing yards, fifth-most in school history. He was 47 yards behind Joe Cribbs for fourth.
Sophomore D’Antoine Hood, a Central-Phenix grad, started his second career game at cornerback.
He finished with five tackles. … The Tigers wore white and orange shoes for the first time this season. Auburn normally wears black shoes with its uniforms. … Wes Byrum set an Auburn place-kicker record for points in a season with 99. … Receiver Quindarius Carr caught his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter, hauling in a 46-yarder from quarterback Chris Todd. He had one catch for 32 yards in Auburn’s first 11 games. … Defensive end Antonio Coleman recorded his 10th sack of the season in his final college game. The senior had 24.5 for his career, third most in Auburn history.