But with Auburn unbeaten at 6-0 and ranked seventh in the latest polls, Tigers coach Gene Chizik gives a passing nod to fun, and pushes onward.
“We try to have fun all the time,” Chizik said Sunday, a day after the Tigers won at Kentucky, 37-34. “We try to keep it as loose as we can without losing focus. That’s just kind of part of the deal all the time. I don’t think you change the nature of how you do things or how you proceed because the circumstances are different.”
Regardless, the stakes get higher for Auburn each week. The Tigers play host to 12th-ranked Arkansas (4-1, 1-1 SEC) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
In the highly-competitive SEC, South Carolina’s upset victory over Alabama on Saturday has changed the dynamic in both divisions.
In the East, South Carolina is in first place, a game ahead of Florida.
In the West, Auburn and LSU remain unbeaten, closely followed by Alabama and Arkansas.
While the Tigers are the highest-ranked team in the SEC, Chizik is not one to get caught up in the excitement of the race.
“Every week will be business as usual,” Chizik said. “I think everybody understands that if you continue to win, what’s at stake the next week. I don’t think there’s any secret to that.”
The circumstances surrounding Auburn’s victories this season may have something to do with Chizik’s lack of excitement.
Except for Arkansas State and ULM, every game has been decided in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just different ways, different weeks, it seems like,” Chizik said. “Everybody’s kind of gotten a piece of the puzzle at the end of the game in terms of who had to step up at that moment to win it.”
Perhaps Chizik would be having more fun if the Tigers were winning with a bit more breathing room involved.
Then again, given Chizik’s quest for perfection, probably not.
“I feel like we’re still in search for a really good, all-around, four-quarter game,” Chizik said. “I don’t think that we’ve had that yet. We just got to continue to work every week and try to get better at some of the little things.
“As I’ve said every week, I don’t feel like we’re where we need to be.”
The players, meanwhile, are taking their cue from Chizik.
Quarterback Cam Newton was asked about football being fun right now with the Tigers off to their 6-0 start, and either he didn’t get the question or he just hadn’t stopped to think about fun at this stage of the season with so much at stake for the Tigers.
“We never want to look too far down because you could be blindsided,” Newton said. “We just take small steps. If you start trying to skip, that’s when you fall.”