Auburn vs. Alabama: Players with Most to Prove in Iron Bowl

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2012

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 22:  Tre Mason #21 of the Auburn Tigers rushes away from Eric Reid #1 of the LSU Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Iron Bowl is supposed to be competitive, but the Alabama Crimson Tide are going to stomp the Auburn Tigers this year.

It's that simple. 

However, that doesn't mean neither team has nothing to prove. Alabama must stay focused and prove that its BCS National Championship worthy, and Auburn is simply looking for respect.

Players are seeking respect as well. Whether it be poor play, critical mistakes or just the need to prove yourself in general, every game is a chance to show that you're valuable to your team in the coming years.

Let's take a look at three players with the most to prove in Saturday's Iron Bowl.


Jonathan Wallace

Kiehl Frazier isn't the answer under center. Maybe Wallace is, but he has to prove it. 

Wallace has four touchdowns and two interceptions this season. He started seeing the field versus Vanderbilt, and his snaps have increased as the season has progressed.

In the last three games, he's thrown two scores and two picks. He hasn't been terrible, but the freshman will face his stiffest challenge on Saturday.

It doesn't matter what happens with this program moving forward—if a quarterback doesn't step up, they aren't going anywhere. 

Wallace has a chance to be a solid player, but he must take a step forward here. Doing so against Alabama won't be easy, but it will prove a lot as Gene Chizik looks ahead to the future.


Tre Mason

Mason is Auburn's best player, but he must prove that he can carry this team against an elite defense.

The Tigers are the 109th-ranked scoring offense this season. Mason's running ability is the only bright spot they have. He has 920 yards and eight touchdowns, but that doesn't mean anything if you can't do it against the best competition on your schedule.

Alabama knows that Mason is Auburn's only hope of keeping this game close. The Tide will key in on him. He has three 100-yard games this year, but this isn't Clemson, New Mexico State or Alabama A&M. 

Mason is a talented sophomore, but he's in for a rude awakening on Saturday. He has to prove that he's ready to be this team's No. 1 option heading into next season, and that requires a solid performance here.


T.J. Yeldon

OK, it's hard to say that any freshman who runs for 800-plus yards and nine touchdowns has anything to prove, this Yeldon has had two shaky moments lately.

A fumble versus LSU nearly cost Alabama the game, and a fumble against Texas A&M very well might have. It doesn't matter how dynamic you are, holding onto the ball takes precedence over everything.

There's no doubting Yeldon's ability. He could be just as good as Trent Richardson, but this is an issue he must solve. It's one thing to cough the ball up, but he's giving it up in critical situations.

Alabama needs to see ball security from its most talented ball-carrier. It would make the rest of the offense feel secure and allow Yeldon to completely maximize his potential as an offensive weapon.