College football stat guru Phil Steele has released a list of all 130 FBS teams ranked by number of returning starters. Penn State is returning 16 starters, good for 9th in the nation and tops in the Big Ten. Why is this important? Let's let Phil explain:
You shouldn't discount the importance of returning starters… For instance, last year there were 19 teams that returned 16 starters or more, including their QB. Of those 19 teams, 12 had a better record in 2016 than they did in 2015. Four had the same record, and only 3 of the 19 had a weaker record.
Here's Penn State's 2017 schedule, along with the number of returning starters for each squad:
|Date||Opponent||National Rank||Returning Starters||OfF||QB||Def|
|9/16||vs. Georgia State||48||14||8||1||6|
|10/28||@ Ohio State||25||15||8||1||7|
|11/4||@ Michigan State||124||9||4||0||5|
No team on Penn State's schedule returns more staters than the Nittany Lions. (Northwestern also returns 16 starters). It's also worth noting that Michigan returns the fewest starters in the nation, with just 5. Michigan State and Pitt are not far behind, returning only 9 and 10 starters, respectively.
Just another reason to be optimistic about 2017 as we head into spring practices.