Phil Steele Blog • February 25, 2017

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Complete Breakdown of every CFB Team's Returning Starters.

The deadline for players to declare for the NFL draft is over, so it's time to analyze returning starters for the 2017 college football season.

There will be some changes in the spring with a player or two transferring, but the list below gives you a very good idea of which teams will have the most veteran units in 2017 and which teams have the most to replace.

Something crucial to remember: You shouldn't discount the importance of returning starters, even if this past year's CFP title game featured two teams, Clemson (12 ret) & Alabama (11 ret) that had among the fewest returning starters in the country. The Tigers and Crimson Tide were exceptions to the rule and, for the most part, experienced starters did have a positive impact on teams.

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.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there were 14 teams that returned 11 or fewer starters that did not have a returning starter at QB. Of those 14 teams, 0 had a better record. Of the 14 least experienced teams, 13 had a weaker record in 2016 than they did in 2015 and one had the same.

With all that in mind, the numbers listed below provide a good window into what to expect in 2017. I broke them down first by overall ranking Syracuse, Florida Atlantic and Texas are looking good and Michigan is not, and then by conference.

Note: A 1 in the QB Column denotes that teams starting QB is back.

             
RK TEAM CONF TOTAL OFF QB DEF
1 Syracuse ACC 20 9 1 11
2 Florida Atlantic CUSA 18 9 1 9
3 Texas BIG 12 17 7 1 10
3 Oregon PAC-12 17 8 1 9
3 NC State ACC 17 9 1 8
3 Georgia SEC 17 7 1 10
3 Kentucky SEC 17 8 1 9
3 TCU BIG 12 17 10 1 7
9 Penn St BIG 10 16 9 1 7
9 Northwestern BIG 10 16 8 1 8
9 Oklahoma BIG 12 16 9 1 7
9 Washington St PAC-12 16 7 1 9
9 Stanford PAC-12 16 8 1 8
9 Georgia Tech ACC 16 8 0 8
9 Florida St ACC 16 7 1 9
9 Vanderbilt SEC 16 9 1 7
9 South Carolina SEC 16 10 1 6
9 Fresno St MW 16 10 1 6
9 Rice CUSA 16 8 0 8
9 Tulane AAC 16 8 1 8
9 Army INDEP 16 9 1 7
9 Miami, Oh MAC 16 8 1 8
9 ULM SUN BELT 16 7 1 9
9 USF AAC 16 7 1 9
25 Ohio St BIG 10 15 8 1 7
25 Iowa BIG 10 15 7 0 8
25 Indiana BIG 10 15 6 1 9
25 Wisconsin BIG 10 15 8 1 7
25 Notre Dame INDEP 15 8 0 7
25 Missouri SEC 15 10 1 5
25 Miami, Fl ACC 15 7 0 8
25 Boston College ACC 15 8 0 7
25 UCLA PAC-12 15 9 1 6
25 Arizona St PAC-12 15 7 1 8
25 Oregon St PAC-12 15 7 1 8
25 Wake Forest ACC 15 9 1 6
25 Auburn SEC 15 8 1 7
25 San Jose St MW 15 7 0 8
25 Colorado St MW 15 6 1 9
25 Memphis AAC 15 9 1 6
25 Houston AAC 15 8 0 7
25 Marshall CUSA 15 8 1 7
25 Buffalo MAC 15 6 1 9
25 Akron MAC 15 9 1 6
25 New Mexico St SUN BELT 15 6 0 9
25 Troy SUN BELT 15 8 1 7
25 FIU CUSA 15 7 1 8
48 Minnesota BIG 10 14 8 0 6
48 Kansas St BIG 12 14 8 1 6
48 Texas Tech BIG 12 14 8 0 6
48 Baylor BIG 12 14 7 0 7
48 Arizona PAC-12 14 7 1 7
48 California PAC-12 14 6 0 8
48 Maryland BIG 10 14 7 0 7
48 Virginia ACC 14 6 1 8
48 Duke ACC 14 7 1 7
48 Florida SEC 14 9 1 5
48 Tennessee SEC 14 7 0 7
48 Hawaii MW 14 8 1 6
48 SMU AAC 14 9 1 5
48 Wyoming MW 14 6 1 8
48 Central Michigan MAC 14 8 0 6
48 Eastern Michigan MAC 14 8 1 6
48 Nevada MW 14 5 1 9
48 Connecticut AAC 14 7 1 7
48 Massachusetts INDEP 14 6 1 8
48 Texas St SUN BELT 14 7 0 7
48 UTSA CUSA 14 7 1 7
48 Old Dominion CUSA 14 8 0 6
48 Georgia St SUN BELT 14 8 1 6
71 Purdue BIG 10 13 5 1 8
71 Rutgers BIG 10 13 5 1 8
71 Washington PAC-12 13 7 1 6
71 Arkansas SEC 13 7 1 6
71 Mississippi St SEC 13 7 1 6
71 Tulsa AAC 13 7 0 6
71 UNLV MW 13 9 1 4
71 Bowling Green MAC 13 6 1 7
71 Kent St MAC 13 7 1 6
71 Ohio MAC 13 7 1 6
71 Western Michigan MAC 13 5 0 8
71 Navy AAC 13 5 0 8
71 UCF AAC 13 9 1 4
71 UL Lafayette SUN BELT 13 6 0 7
71 Appalachian St SUN BELT 13 7 1 6
86 Colorado PAC-12 12 9 0 3
86 Oklahoma St BIG 12 12 7 1 5
86 Iowa St BIG 12 12 6 1 6
86 Kansas BIG 12 12 8 1 4
86 Texas A&M SEC 12 5 0 7
86 Virginia Tech ACC 12 5 0 7
86 USC PAC-12 12 5 1 7
86 North Carolina ACC 12 5 0 7
86 Clemson ACC 12 5 0 7
86 BYU INDEP 12 6 1 6
86 Southern Miss CUSA 12 6 0 6
86 Louisville ACC 12 5 1 7
86 Ball St MAC 12 8 1 4
86 Toledo MAC 12 5 1 7
86 Northern Illinois MAC 12 5 0 7
86 Middle Tennessee CUSA 12 6 1 6
86 Charlotte CUSA 12 6 1 6
103 Illinois BIG 10 11 5 0 6
103 Alabama SEC 11 6 1 5
103 LSU SEC 11 6 1 5
103 Ole Miss SEC 11 5 0 6
103 UTEP CUSA 11 5 1 6
103 San Diego St MW 11 5 1 6
103 Utah PAC-12 11 5 1 6
103 East Carolina AAC 11 5 0 6
103 North Texas CUSA 11 6 1 5
103 Louisiana Tech CUSA 11 5 0 6
103 Coastal Carolina SUN BELT 11 5 1 6
114 Nebraska BIG 10 10 4 0 6
114 Pittsburgh ACC 10 6 0 4
114 Temple AAC 10 6 0 4
114 New Mexico MW 10 7 1 3
114 Cincinnati AAC 10 5 1 5
114 Idaho SUN BELT 10 5 1 5
114 Arkansas St SUN BELT 10 5 1 5
114 WKU CUSA 10 4 1 6
114 South Alabama SUN BELT 10 4 1 6
114 Georgia Southern SUN BELT 10 5 0 5
124 Michigan St BIG 10 9 4 0 5
124 Utah St MW 9 5 1 4
124 Boise St MW 9 5 1 4
127 West Virginia BIG 12 8 5 0 3
128 Air Force MW 7 6 1 1
129 Michigan BIG 10 5 4 1 1

 

  AAC        
RK TEAM TOTAL OFF QB DEF
T9 Tulane 16 8 1 8
T9 USF 16 7 1 9
T25 Houston 15 8 0 7
T25 Memphis 15 9 1 6
T48 Connecticut 14 7 1 7
T48 SMU 14 9 1 5
T71 Navy 13 5 0 8
T71 Tulsa 13 7 0 6
T71 UCF 13 9 1 4
T103 East Carolina 11 5 0 6
T114 Cincinnati 10 5 1 5
T114 Temple 10 6 0 4
  ACC        
RK TEAM TOTAL OFF QB DEF
1 Syracuse 20 9 1 11
T3 NC State 17 9 1 8
T9 Florida St 16 7 1 9
T9 Georgia Tech 16 8 0 8
T25 Boston College 15 8 0 7
T25 Miami, Fl 15 7 0 8
T25 Wake Forest 15 9 1 6
T48 Duke 14 7 1 7
T48 Virginia 14 6 1 8
T86 Clemson 12 5 0 7
T86 Louisville 12 5 1 7
T86 North Carolina 12 5 0 7
T86 Virginia Tech 12 5 0 7
T114 Pittsburgh 10 6 0 4
  BIG 10        
RK TEAM TOTAL OFF QB DEF
T9 Northwestern 16 8 1 8
T9 Penn St 16 9 1 7
T25 Indiana 15 6 1 9
T25 Iowa 15 7 0 8
T25 Ohio St 15 8 1 7
T25 Wisconsin 15 8 1 7
T48 Maryland 14 7 0 7
T48 Minnesota 14 8 0 6
T71 Purdue 13 5 1 8
T71 Rutgers 13 5 1 8
T103 Illinois 11 5 0 6
T114 Nebraska 10 4 0 6
T124 Michigan St 9 4 0 5
129 Michigan 5 4 1 1
  BIG 12        
RK TEAM TOTAL OFF QB DEF
T3 TCU 17 10 1 7
T3 Texas 17 7 1 10
T9 Oklahoma 16 9 1 7
T48 Baylor 14 7 0 7
T48 Kansas St 14 8 1 6
T48 Texas Tech 14 8 0 6
T86 Iowa St 12 6 1 6
T86 Kansas 12 8 1 4
T86 Oklahoma St 12 7 1 5
127 West Virginia 8 5 0 3
  CUSA        
RK TEAM TOTAL OFF QB DEF
2 Florida Atlantic 18 9 1 9
T9 Rice 16 8 0 8
T25 FIU 15 7 1 8
T25 Mar