Auburn won the toss and deferred to the second half. Northwestern chose to receive and Auburn defended the south end zone.
Kickoff was at 11:03 a.m. ET.
Attendance was announced as 49,383.
This was Auburn's second straight overtime bowl victory as Auburn defeated Clemson 23-20 in the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Auburn has now won three straight bowl games, all by three points apiece. The Tigers defeated Northwestern 38-35 in overtime in the Outback Bowl, defeated Clemson 23-20 in overtime in the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl and defeated Nebraska 17-14 in the 2007 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
Auburn's 38 points set a Tigers bowl record, eclipsing the 35 Auburn scored in a 35-28 Gator Bowl victory over Ole Miss in 1971. The 73 combined points by both Auburn and Northwestern also set an Auburn bowl record that was also previously held in the 1971 Gator Bowl.
Auburn played in its 35th bowl game, which is 16th most among FBS schools. The Tigers are now 20-13-2 all-time in bowl games and have won three in a row.
Gene Chizik, who is the first Auburn first-year head coach to take the Tigers to a bowl game, is now 7-0 all-time in bowl games, including a 6-0 record as an assistant.
Auburn is now 7-3-2 all-time against current members of the Big Ten, including a 7-3 record in bowl games. It was Auburn's first ever game against Northwestern.
Auburn scored 38 points, and finished the season with 433 points, which is second most in school history, just missing the record of 438 points by the 1995 Tigers.
Auburn finished with 425 total yards of offense, and finished the season with 5,613 yards, breaking the previous school record of 5,469 set in 2004. Auburn also set a team single-season record with 914 offensive plays, breaking the previous record of 911 set in 1984.
Auburn had 235 passing yards to finish the season with 2,857, which is the fifth-highest total in school history.
Auburn had one touchdown pass, tying the team record for the most TD passes in a single season with 25.
Auburn had 190 yards rushing, and finished the season with 2,756 yards rushing, which is the seventh-best single-season total in school history.
Auburn had 18 first downs and finished the season with 266, which is the second-highest single-season total in Auburn history.
Auburn has now won 56 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points in a game, and is 276-4 all-time. The last time Auburn lost a game when scoring at least 30 points was in 1996, when the Tigers dropped a 56-49 contest to Georgia in four overtimes.
Auburn now owns a 5-5 all-time record in overtime games, and has won two straight.
Auburn collected three interceptions in the first half and five overall, after picking off just three passes in its previous six games combined. Auburn also had five interceptions against West Virginia Sept. 19. It marked the first time Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka had ever been picked off more than three times in a game.
Auburn had three scoring drives that took less than two minutes, marking the Tigers' 27th, 28th and 29th scoring drives this season that took less than two minutes, and 26 of those 29 drives resulted in touchdowns.
Auburn scored first on a 1-yard TD run by Kodi Burns. The Tigers are now 5-3 this season when scoring first.
Auburn's opening-drive TD marked the fourth straight game that Auburn scored a touchdown on its opening drive, and the fifth straight time Auburn scored points via a TD or field goal.
Auburn led 21-7 at halftime. The Tigers are now 7-2 when leading at halftime this season.
The score was tied 21-21 after three quarters. The Tigers are now 1-1 this season when tied after three quarters.
Darvin Adams was named the Outback Bowl MVP for his Outback Bowl record-tying 12 receptions for a career-high 142 yards. His 60 catches this year set a new school record, surpassing the previous mark of 58 by Willie Gosha (1995) and Frank Sanders (1994), and his 997 receiving yards are the third best behind Ronney Daniels (1068) and Terry Beasley (1051). It was his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Ben Tate rushed 20 times for 108 yards, pushing his season total to 1,362 yards, moving past James Brooks (1980), Carnell Williams (2003), Kenny Irons (2005) and Stephen Davis (1994) for the fourth-best single-season total in school history.
Tate's career rushing total is now 3,321, which is fifth best in school history, just 47 yards behind Joe Cribbs for fourth.
Tate's 5-yard TD rush in the fourth quarter was his 23rd career rushing TD and ninth this season and he followed that with a 7-yard TD rush for his 24th career rushing TD. The 24 TDs are tied for the sixth most in school history with Brent Fullwood (1983-86) and James Brooks (1977-80).
Chris Todd completed 20-of-31 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown, extending his own school single-season record to 22 passing touchdowns in a season. He finished the season with 2,612 yards passing, which is the third-best total in school history, and his 198 pass completions also ranks third.
Wes Byrum set new school records for points scored by a kicker and extra points in a season during the contest. Byurm finished the season with 99 points and 54 extra points, breaking the records of 94 points and 51 extra points set by John Vaughn in 2006 and 2004, respectively. His 99 points are the fourth most by any Auburn player in a single season.
Byrum also pushed his career points total to 240, moving past Al Del Greco (1980-83) for fifth on Auburn's career scoring list.
Walter McFadden had two interceptions, including a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was his third career interception returned for a score and second this season, and the longest interception return in Auburn history and Outback Bowl history. The previous longest interception return in school history was a 98-yarder by John Liptak vs. Georgia in 1947. The longest in Outback history was 88 yards by Dwayne Rudd of Alabama in 1997. It was the 15th 100-yard interception return in SEC history.
McFadden now has two of the four longest interception returns in Auburn history. His 93-yard return for a score vs. Tennessee Tech in 2007 ranks fourth in school history.
McFadden now has nine career interceptions and six this season. His six picks are tied for fifth most in a single season in school history and most since Junior Rosegreen had six in 2004.
Kodi Burns ended Auburn's opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. It was his 13th career rushing touchdown and fifth this season, but first since the Mississippi State game Sept. 12. All five of his rushing touchdowns this season have been from one yard out.
T'Sharvan Bell had his second and third career interceptions, getting one in the second quarter and one in the fourth. His first interception of the season came late in the game against Mississippi State earlier this season.
Quinardius Carr caught his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter, hauling in a 46-yard pass from Chris Todd. It was just his second catch of the season and eighth of his career, and a new career long. His previous long was a 32-yard catch this season at Arkansas.
Neiko Thorpe had his second interception of the season and the fourth of his career in the third quarter. He also finished with a career high 14 tackles, topping his previous high of 11 set earlier this season at Arkansas.
Antonio Coleman collected his 10th sack of the season and finished with 24.5 for his career. His 10 sacks ties for fourth most in a single season in school history, and he remains third in school history for career sacks.
Demond Washington returned four kickoffs for 111 yards, finishing the season with a school-record average of 31.1 yards per return (16 returns for 497 yards). The previous record was 28.3 by David Langner in 1972.