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Alabama's Christion Jones graces regional cover of Sept. 9 Sports Illustrated

(David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated) (Photo: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated)

Alabama kicked off its national title defense with a 35-10 win over Virginia Tech last Saturday, and once again, the Crimson Tide roll into the college football season as the prohibitive BCS favorites. They have a coach, Nick Saban, who is known for getting the most out of his players. They have a roster, particularly in the backfield, that is loaded with future NFL talent.

Still, 'Bama isn't invincible. Opponents who are smart, willing and armed with the right personnel can take eight simple steps to beat the reigning champs, writes Lars Anderson in this week's Sports Illustrated. Alabama wide receiver Christion Jones, who scored three touchdown in the Tide's Week 1 victory over the Hokies, is featured on the regional cover of this week's SI.

Anderson spoke with a few ex-Alabama staff members and some former Tide players -- all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity -- and many thought 'Bama would lose at least once in 2013. "You have to play a near-perfect game, but they have some vulnerable points," says a coach. "This giant can be slayed."

Based on inside information, SI put together an eight-step, how-to guide for teams hoping to keep Saban's juggernaut from capturing a vaunted three-peat.

Click here to buy a digital version of the issue.

ELLIS: No. 1 Alabama routs Virginia Tech, but Tide have plenty of room to improve

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