Four down and one to go before Auburn finishes up a brutal stretch of games in the month of October.
The Tigers entered the month 3-1 overall. They will exit it either 5-4 or 6-3. It all depends on what Auburn does Saturday against a struggling Ole Miss squad.
In October, Auburn opened the month by traveling to then top-10 South Carolina and left with a 16-13 win. The following week against another top-10 team in Arkansas, the Tigers fell 38-14 in Fayetteville. After rebounding against Florida with a 17-6 win at home, Auburn went into Baton Rouge to face No. 1 LSU and walked out with a 45-10 loss.
Going 2-2 so far in October, however, isn't all bad, Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Tuesday in his weekly press conference. Not with the young and inexperienced team the Tigers have this season.
"If we are able to get a win this Saturday, winning three of those five games is something we can build on," said Chizik. "But to say that we are happy losing two games, I don't want to go there because I feel like there are things we could have done much better as a team to put ourselves in a position to win.
"It has been a challenging month and we knew that going into it. It seemed like every time we went on the road it was against a top-10 team. That's very challenging especially for a young team, but I think our football team has done some positive things with arguably one of the toughest schedules, if not the toughest schedule in the country, and we are hanging in there."
Auburn sits at 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC. Ole Miss visits Jordan-Hare Saturday night and brings a 2-5 record and a winless SEC slate at 0-4. The Rebels' two wins this season have come against Southern Illinois (42-24) and Fresno State (38-28), but led No. 8 Arkansas 17-0 last week before falling to the Razorbacks 29-24.
"Our goal this week is to beat Ole Miss. That is our No. 1 goal," said Chizik. "For us, our goal is to every week have a chance to win each football game."
Chizik said the Tigers will stick with Clint Moseley as the starting quarterback against the Rebels. The redshirt sophomore made his first collegiate start last week at LSU and completed 12-of-20 passes for 145 yards, but he was intercepted once, which was returned for a touchdown, and was sacked six times.
"In an environment like that, against a defense as good as they were and with him being under duress as much as he was, when he had opportunities to make plays, I thought he did a nice job," said Chizik. "He'll continue to improve and we expect him to do that this week."
Chizik said Moseley handled the adversities against LSU, which possesses one of the nation's top defenses, as well as could be expected.
"That's one thing I can say that I am extremely proud of him," said Chizik. "I never saw anything during the game when things weren't going good, when things weren't going our way, I never saw anything that indicated to me that he was losing confidence or that he couldn't get the job done.
"I'm really proud of the way he carried himself and handled all of the adversity and I feel like he did a great job."
Auburn's offensive line gave up a season-high six sacks against LSU, which is something the Tigers cannot afford to do Saturday against Ole Miss. Moseley needs help from the offensive line, but Chizik said the big guys up front aren't all to blame for the Tigers' lack of success on offense.
"I'm tough on the level of play that we need to have to win from the whole offense," said Chizik. "And it's not just the offense. It's the defense, special teams nobody is exempt from that loss, or any loss for that matter. We need to be able to play better everywhere offensively. It's not pointing fingers at the offensive line. Do they need to improve? Absolutely. But so do the running backs, the wideouts, the quarterback and the tight end."
One area of the offense that Chizik hopes to see more consistency from is the wide receivers. Since the Tigers' leading wideout Emory Blake has been out with an injury the last three weeks, Auburn has had others step in to fill Blake's shoes, but have been inconsistent in doing so.
"I think it's been very, very sporadic," said Chizik. "At some points, you see these really nice catches and other times you see them drop balls in their hands. When somebody is out, somebody else has to step up to the plate with consistent play.
"I'm not saying they haven't done anything good. I'm saying that the level of consistency from that group for us to win games needs to be better. There are challenges with that group with not much experience, but the consistency level is something we have to continue to work on and get more production out of those guys."
Kickoff for the Auburn-Ole Miss game is slated for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPNU.