TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No. 1 Alabama travels into the belly of the beast on Saturday night to face No. 5 LSU in Baton Rouge, La. The Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC) split a pair of games against the Tigers last season and revenge could be on the minds of Les Miles' team.
Here's five storylines for the game ...
1. Keeping LSU one-dimensional: LSU's offense has not been what Les Miles had hoped for when he traded in Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee for Zach Mettenberger, a strong-armed transfer from Georgia. The Tigers haven't been able to throw the ball affectively down field, nor have they been able to keep defenses honest in the intermediate passing game. LSU will run the ball and and run the ball and run it some more on Saturday night. That's all fine and good for the Tide, so long as Mettenberger and the LSU passing game doesn't find its way. Alabama's goal defensively in every game is to make the opposing offense one-dimensional. LSU seems predisposed to that already, but you never know what the Mad Hatter could have in store.
2. The battle in the trenches: It all comes down to what happens at the line of scrimmage in the SEC, and a war between linemen doesn't get any better than Alabama-LSU. The Tide's offensive line is arguably the best in the country. Meanwhile, UA coach Nick Saban claims LSU's defensive front is the best in college football, and he's not alone in that belief. The clash between the two units could decide the outcome of the game.
3. Coping with the environment: The trip to Death Valley won't be easy. Most of the starters at Alabama haven't experienced Tiger Stadium at night. How they make themselves comfortable in what is possibly the most hostile environment in college football will be key to Alabama's success. If there's an ace up LSU's sleeve, it's the home-field advantage. The Tigers have won 22 straight in Baton Rouge and are 36-1 under Miles in Saturday-night home games.
4. McCarron's Heisman moment? If AJ McCarron wants to be taken seriously in the Heisman race, Saturday will be his moment. The negative connotation of being a "game manager" still lingers around the junior quarterback, but a strong performance against one of the best defenses in the country on national television could change that. All eyes will be on Baton Rouge this weekend and with that comes an opportunity to make an impact on the minds of potential Heisman voters.
5. Special teams: Games like this seem to always come down to the little things. Alabama's regular season matchup with LSU last year did. If it weren't for a few missed field goals from Cade Foster, Alabama's season might have gone another direction. Foster recovered from a shaky 2011 campaign and began 2012 on fire, kicking the ball with confidence. But that confidence might not be as high as it was a few weeks ago when Foster missed two makable field goals at Tennessee. Was it a fluke, or a sign of things to come for the streaky kicker from Texas?