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Phil Steele: Georgia Bulldogs Will Be One of College Football’s Biggest Surprises in 2016

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“Richt left behind a lot of talent and the Bulldogs have a head coach who has quite a few national titles.”

NCAA Football: Georgia Spring Game Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Renowned college football mind Phil Steele has releases his official 2016 preview magazine, and in a post for ESPN points out 13 teams he says are potential big surprises in 2016.

You guessed it, one of those teams is the Georgia Bulldogs:

Mark Richt's new team is my No. 6 surprise team, but his old one comes in just one spot behind. Richt left behind a lot of talent and the Bulldogs have a head coach who has quite a few national titles as Alabama's defensive coordinator. Georgia ranks in my top units in five of the eight categories. Running back Nick Chubb was lost for the season at the start of the Tennessee game last year and his return, teamed with Sony Michel, running behind my No. 7-rated O-line will give the Bulldogs a strong run game. New head coach Kirby Smart has six starters back from a defense that allowed just 16.9 points per game. The Bulldogs have only four true road games this year, and three are against teams that had losing records last year. They get SEC East favorite Tennessee at home (Georgia has won its past four against the Vols in Athens). The Dawgs do draw Ole Miss on the road, but that might be the only game in which they are an underdog this year. In the past three years, Georgia has been favored in 36 of its 39 games but has a disappointing record of 28-11 in that span. Sometimes a coaching change (Richt was there 15 years) can bring a different attitude and maybe take care of business in that favorites role.

The other teams on the list are Washington, TCU, Iowa, Baylor, UCLA, Miami, Houston, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Louisville, UNC (uh oh) and Oregon. Nebraska was included as a "bonus long-shot pick."

Opening day will go a long way in deciding if the ‘Dawgs are indeed a surprise school this fall.