Fast is how Auburn does things. It is not just a billboard campaign or a media guide cover. It is actually how they operate. Last time they took the field, they showed just how fast their offense can be despite playing the third ranked team in the country in total defense.

Auburn’s third possession in last year’s national championship game took 2 minutes, 13 seconds for an early 7-3 lead over Florida State. It took just 1:05 for Auburn to go 85 yards to increase their lead to 14-3. In 2:25 the Tigers rolled up their third unanswered touchdown of the first half. Late in the game and trailing by 3, Auburn went 75 yards in just 1:19 to retake the lead. With 1:11 left in the game though, the Seminoles marched 80 yards and scored in Auburn-like fashion. The Rose Bowl clock showed :13 when Kelvin Benjamin hauled in the game-winning touchdown.

For all the unexpected, magical, jaw-dropping, euphoric moments that Auburn experienced last year, their last moment was completely the opposite. Sure, the Ricardo Louis and Chris Davis heroics will be replayed over and over again. But it is that moment, when Benjamin made that catch followed by the somber walk to the locker room, that stung so deep. The pats on the back from fans about what a great season Auburn had and how it exceeded expectations only goes so far. Being that close – 13 seconds away – from two national championships in four years without the BCS trophy could cripple a team.

Thirteen seconds isn’t that long of a time period. It should pass very quickly. But 13 seconds didn’t go by as quick as an Auburn scoring strike in the offseason. It lasted over seven months for the Tigers. And Auburn is making the most of it.

Auburn faces an expectation this season. It is an expectations they’ve placed on themselves. An established expectation way before the polls placed the Tigers in the Top 6. Thirteen seconds might sting but it will motivate Auburn and it will teach Auburn. The Tigers have turned it into their battle cry – Be 13 seconds better.

“Thirteen seconds it is a mentality,” Malzahn on his radio show Monday night. “You have to be 13 seconds better. That is to help motivate us throughout the season. It goes for coaches, players and myself.”

All of the highs and lows of 2013 will teach Auburn to be 13 seconds better.

“It is very critical that we were in very pressure situations,” Malzahn said. “We experienced about every emotion you could experience last year. (This year) the coaches know how the players are going to react and he players are going to know how we react.”