Penn State Tops Big Ten In Returning Starters

By Len Damico on February 26, 2017 at 9:00 am
Dec 3, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley (9) celebrates with running back Saquon Barkley (26) in the second half during the Big Ten Championship college football game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oi
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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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
9/2 vs. Akron 25 15 9 1 6
9/9 vs. Pitt 114 10 6 0 4
9/16 vs. Georgia State 48 14 8 1 6
9/23 @ Iowa 25 15 7 0 8
9/30 vs. Indiana 25 15 6 1 9
10/7 @ Northwestern 9 16 8 1 8
10/21 vs. Michigan 129 5 4 1 1
10/28 @ Ohio State 25 15 8 1 7
11/4 @ Michigan State 124 9 4 0 5
11/11 vs. Rutgers 71 13 5 1 8
11/18 vs. Nebraska 114 10 4 0 6
11/25 @ Maryland 48 14 7 0 7

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.

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