Relegated to a reserve role throughout his career, that changed in 2009 with a new offensive line coach on board with Jeff Grimes joining Gene Chizik's staff that took over after the Tigers suffered a 5-7 2008 season with no bowl.
Grimes challenged McCain to step up and win a starting job and the fifth-year senior started all 13 games and played well.
"It was really the story of this team in one game--ups, downs and back up again. We had mistakes and tough breaks, but at the end we came out on top. That has been the story of our season with a lot of ups and downs, but we have also shown a lot of perseverance and I couldn't be more proud of these guys. It is a great way to go out.
"To be able to come down here and play in a bowl game against a great team from a Big 10 team on New Year's Day is a great way for the seniors to go out," McCain added. "It's the first game of the the new season for the younger guys. That is how they looked at it and they got their 2010 season started off right."
In other news and notes:
*McFadden's first of two interceptions in the game was the 15th 100-yard return in SEC history. It also broke the bowl record of 88 yards by Dwayne Rudd of Alabama in 1997.
Walt McFadden breaks up a Northwestern pass.
*McFadden has two of the four longest interception returns by an Auburn player. His 93-yarder vs. Tennessee Tech in 2007 is the fourth longest.
*McFadden's six interceptions as a senior tie him for the fifth most in an Auburn season and are the most for a player since Junior Rosegreen got six in 2004.
*Chris Todd added to his single-season touchdown pass record with one more for 22.
*Junior Wes Byrum set school records for points scored by a kicker (99) and extra points (54). The old scoring mark by a kicker was 94 by John Vaughn.
*Auburn's last bowl game, the 2007 Chick-fil-A contest vs. Clemson, also was an overtime game and was also a three-point win for the Tigers who won 23-20 on a run by Kodi Burns.
*Auburn has won three straight bowl games, each by a margin of three points. The Tigers defeated Nebraska 17-14 in the Cotton Bowl following the 2006 season. The Tigers ae 20-13-2 all-time in bowl games.
*The Outback was Gene Chizik's first bowl game as a head coach. Counting his time as an assistant, he is 7-0 in bowl contests.
*The Tigers finished the season with 433 points, the second highest total in school history behind 438 in 1995.
*Auburn has won 57 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points in a game and is 277-4 all-time when scoring that many points. The last setback with more than 30 for the Tigers was in 1996, a 56-49 quadruple overtime loss to Georgia.
*Auburn matched its season high for interceptions of five vs. West Virginia.
*For the fourth straight time, Auburn scored on its opening offensive possession.