Five storylines: Alabama at LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU has the longest home winning streak in college football. Nobody competes with Nick Saban better than Les Miles. And it's a night game at Tiger Stadium.

Yet, there is an air of pessimism that sort of envelops the excitement around LSU with No. 1 Alabama coming to town.

The Crimson Tide are favored by 9-1/2 points over the Tigers and few are expecting an LSU team that is young to be able to compete. Here are five storylines to watch:

1. Is LSU still elite? A year ago, LSU and Alabama clearly set themselves apart from the rest of college football before Alabama beat the Tigers 21-0 in the BCS national championship game. This year, LSU is young, having played 15 true freshmen. It's unclear whether the fifth-ranked Tigers are still comparable to an Alabama team that has steamrolled all of its opponents.

2. Passing the Tigers by? If there's an area where Alabama has separated itself from LSU, it's in the passing game. Where A.J. McCarron has gone from game manager to a Heisman Trophy candidate with 18 touchdowns and no interceptions, LSU's passing game has struggled with new starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Will Mettenberger have a breakout game similar to McCarron's breakout performance in the BCS title game?

3. Death Valley Magic? LSU fans love a Saturday-night home game and that's exactly what the Alabama game will be. The Tigers enter the game with the nation's longest home-field winning streak (22 games) and they are 36-1 under Les Miles in Saturday-night home games.

4. Miles Magic? Miles is 3-3 against Alabama coach Nick Saban, the best record of any SEC coach against Saban. The Tigers have won the last two regular-season games against the Tide, including a 9-6 win last season in Tuscaloosa in what was the Crimson Tide's last loss. It seems that if anybody has an intangible against Alabama, it would be Miles.

5. Get your kicks: In last season's regular-season meeting, LSU's Drew Alleman connected on all three of his field goal attempts in the 9-6 win as Alabama missed four field goals. In the BCS title game, Alabama's Jeremy Shelley found redemption, connecting on five field goals. With both teams possessing dominant defenses, this year's game could have a similar story.