College Football Rankings 2012: Teams with Most to Prove in Week 14

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 24:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs off the field after their 49-0 win over the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Notre Dame already proved itself versus Southern California on Saturday night—cementing its spot in the BCS National Championship game.

This week, a few other teams will try to prove themselves in one way or another.

With the college football season winding down, squads are jockeying for bowl positions. These final games count, even if the fate of some teams have already been decided.

The SEC and Pac-12 Championships are both up for grabs in Week 14, and a few other games should pique the interest of college football fans as well.

Let's look at three teams with the most to prove in those games.

No. 16 UCLA

The Bruins will get another shot at Stanford on Friday with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. After the Cardinal handled Jim Mora's squad with ease on Saturday, UCLA better brings its A-game.

Beating Southern California makes this season successful in itself for the Bruins, but this is the chance to grab more than just a rivalry win. This is the chance to be "for real" and move on to play in a BCS bowl versus a weaker Big Ten opponent.

If they want to win, the Bruins must slow down Stepfan Taylor. Taylor is the backbone of the Cardinal offense, and he's a big-game player. The Bruins must stack him up and prove to everyone that they're capable of doing it.

Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley are talented enough to outplay Stanford's blue-collar defense, but they'll need some support from their defense. 

If they can get it, this game is going to be more interesting than the first edition was.

No. 2 Alabama

Alabama has played next to no one this year. The two teams that the Tide did play—LSU and Texas A&M—tested every ounce of their energy, and the Aggies even won. 

Nick Saban's team has to prove that it can play elite teams well. That sounds odd to say, but the Crimson Tide have not looked good against upper-echelon opponents this season.

Saturday's SEC Championship is what college football is all about. It's win and go to the BCS National Championship, or lose and wonder what could have been for both Alabama and Georgia.

The Bulldogs will test Alabama just like the Tigers and the Aggies did. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are both capable running backs, and Aaron Murray is the SEC's best passing quarterback. Throw in a defense that's wrought with NFL-caliber talent, and you have yourself a solid squad.

Mark Richt has been trying to get his team back to the top of college football, and this is his chance. Georgia will be fired up, and Alabama must match its energy early on.

Whoever wins will head to Miami to play Notre Dame. Alabama has shown its stuff all year long, but it must show that it can play against the teams that really matter.

No. 18 Texas

Texas needs to prove that this season wasn't a waste. Beating Kansas State wouldn't rectify three other losses and several other close calls, but it would be an excellent note to close the season on.

It's not like the Longhorns don't have talent, and the Wildcats are coming off an emotional loss to Baylor. With the BCS National Championship game out of the picture, it's hard to tell how Bill Snyder's team will respond.

Losing to Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas Christian isn't really embarrassing, but it's still disappointing for Texas' high hopes. The defense has been terrible for most of the year, the quarterback situation still isn't completely solved and the run game hasn't provided the punch that most expected.

This game doesn't have as much riding on it as the SEC Championship, but Texas has something to prove here. Winning this would prove to their fans that the Longhorns are capable of showing up for a big game.