AUBURN — Momentum in sports tends to be very fickle.
Win a few games in a row? All of a sudden you're on top of the world and can do no wrong. Lose a handful of close contests? All the goodwill you've built and wind behind your sails seems to evaporate.
Coach Hugh Freeze has been around long enough to know that, and he's working to make sure the power of momentum stays on the side of Auburn football. The Tigers have won three straight games — victories over Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Arkansas — and have had a few recent recruiting wins, highlighted by the flip of four-star edge defender Jamonta Waller away from Florida.
Auburn also secured a couple of commitments from Laquan Robinson, the No. 1 junior college safety in the country, and four-star tight end Ryan Ghea, who is tabbed as the No. 15 TE in the Class of 2025.
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"You can't help (but feel it) when you win some games and you're getting quality recruits," Freeze said at his weekly press conference Monday. "I mean, that's cause for you to say you have momentum, but you have the job and the choice to continue that. Because we stump our toe this week and it's easy to say the momentum would be shifted the other way and everyone that's praising you right now would not be praising you.
"Momentum is an everyday thing. I firmly believe in life you're either winning or learning. And I think that's a choice. You can also choose losing. But one thing's for sure (is) you better get to choosing or life has a way of choosing for you and that's kind of going to be my message to our team this week."
Auburn's three-game winning streak comes on the heels of the Tigers losing four consecutive games to Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss. The offense looked inept over that stretch, but that side of the ball has since rebounded and turned in a 48-point performance in the win over the Razorbacks.
The defense has been solid, especially in the red zone, all season long.
"I don't like to wallow in that (losing streak) very long," Freeze said. "I want to get out and luckily our kids did, too. ... Every experience that we have you can choose to learn from and make yourself better. And that's what I hope we'll do this week is learn. Why did we play well? Why are we getting better? We better not forget those things.
"There's still some learning to do."
Auburn will host New Mexico State in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday (3 p.m. CT, SEC Network). The Aggies are, according to Freeze, "one of the better Group of Five teams" and boast an 8-3 record. Coach Jerry Kill's team hasn't lost since Sept. 23.
And then the regular season will be capped with the Iron Bowl versus Alabama.
"It's going to test our maturity," Freeze said. "... We need to continue getting better. We still have a lot of things we can improve on, and so that will be the challenge and the message is: How will we choose to handle this week? It starts with today and then Tuesday.
"There's a reason we've had some success. There's a lot of factors that go into having success, but one of them is the way they've approached work on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, so we better not change that."
Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @rich_silva18.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn football's Hugh Freeze: Next two weeks will 'test our maturity'