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Ranking all 128 FBS teams by 2016 returning production: Louisville leads the country

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It's time to finalize these numbers. Among power conference teams, Louisville, LSU and Rutgers return the most production, while Ohio State, Cal and Arizona State return the least.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of this long offseason, I discussed a way to measure returning production that goes beyond simply "eight returning starters." The premise was pretty simple: Take everything that I collect in the annual preview series, see how much of it returns, and check out what has the strongest correlations with year-to-year change (or lack thereof).

I put together a rough formula that posited that teams like North Carolina (87 percent of production returning), Ohio (85 percent), and Temple (83 percent) were among the most experienced in the country in 2015, then watched as those teams improved from a combined 18-9 to a combined 29-12. (Others near the top didn't improve nearly that much.)

Meanwhile, the five that returned less than 40 percent of their production -- Kansas, UTEP, Wyoming, UCF, and UL-Lafayette -- fell from a combined 32-31 to 11-49.

The conclusions are becoming clear.

I was a little surprised by the suggestions of some of the findings. The correlations were much stronger when it came to continuity at quarterback, in the receiving corps and in the secondary. Meanwhile, there was almost no correlation whatsoever between offensive line career starts and the improvement/regression of the line.

As I get more years of data pulled together, this picture will become clearer.

In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to update this data again for 2016. You can find new returning production figures below.

The changes from February are as follows:

  1. Injuries, transfers and dismissals from the last six months have been accounted for, as well as possible.
  2. Now that I have compiled offensive line information, I have added it, with tiny weight, to the offensive production figures. That hasn't affected many teams, but it's dinged a few.

I am also including the projected scoring impact for each team, based on its offensive and defensive production returning. That Louisville and Old Dominion are, per these calculations, returning 99 percent of their offensive production is projected to have about a 5.4-point impact on their scoring averages. That Ohio State is returning only 29 percent is projected to have a 4.3-point impact in the opposite direction.

We have a new leader in the experience department.

Team OFF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Off) DEF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Def) % RET Rk
Louisville 99% 2 5.4 79% 17 -2.7 89% 1
Old Dominion 99% 1 5.4 77% 23 -2.3 88% 2
LSU 89% 11 4.1 86% 4 -4.0 88% 3
Central Florida 88% 15 3.9 87% 3 -4.1 87% 4
Charlotte 92% 5 4.4 82% 10 -3.2 87% 5
Rutgers 82% 26 3.1 89% 1 -4.5 86% 6
Wake Forest 89% 10 4.1 78% 21 -2.6 84% 7
Syracuse 91% 7 4.3 75% 30 -2.0 83% 8
Tennessee 85% 23 3.5 79% 16 -2.8 82% 9
Kent State 81% 29 2.8 83% 7 -3.5 82% 10
Nevada 96% 3 5.0 67% 56 -0.6 82% 11
Ball State 77% 37 2.4 86% 5 -3.9 81% 12
Connecticut 92% 6 4.4 71% 43 -1.3 81% 13
Kansas 78% 34 2.6 83% 8 -3.5 81% 14
Texas 79% 33 2.6 79% 13 -2.8 79% 15
SMU 93% 4 4.6 63% 70 0.1 78% 16
Idaho 81% 28 3.0 74% 32 -1.9 78% 17
South Florida 89% 14 3.9 66% 60 -0.5 77% 18
New Mexico State 85% 22 3.5 70% 48 -1.1 77% 19
Central Michigan 85% 20 3.5 67% 55 -0.7 76% 20
Washington State 87% 17 3.8 66% 65 -0.4 76% 21
Washington 75% 43 2.0 77% 22 -2.5 76% 22
Georgia 74% 44 2.0 76% 28 -2.1 75% 23
New Mexico 76% 42 2.2 73% 35 -1.7 75% 24
Colorado 73% 47 1.8 76% 26 -2.2 75% 25
Team OFF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Off) DEF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Def) % RET Rk
Nebraska 90% 8 4.1 59% 85 0.8 75% 26
Pittsburgh 70% 55 1.4 79% 20 -2.7 74% 27
Boston College 78% 36 2.4 70% 46 -1.2 74% 28
Appalachian State 72% 50 1.6 75% 29 -2.0 73% 29
Miami-OH 84% 25 3.3 63% 69 0.0 73% 30
UTEP 89% 12 4.0 57% 93 1.1 73% 31
Eastern Michigan 74% 45 1.9 72% 38 -1.5 73% 32
Northern Illinois 84% 24 3.3 61% 76 0.4 73% 33
BYU 70% 58 1.3 74% 33 -1.9 72% 34
Virginia Tech 67% 65 1.0 76% 25 -2.3 72% 35
Duke 71% 53 1.6 72% 39 -1.5 72% 36
Oregon 67% 66 1.0 74% 31 -1.9 71% 37
UCLA 62% 75 0.2 79% 14 -2.8 70% 38
Virginia 80% 30 2.8 60% 81 0.5 70% 39
Wyoming 61% 77 0.2 79% 18 -2.7 70% 40
Army 59% 82 -0.1 81% 12 -3.1 70% 41
Oklahoma State 78% 35 2.5 62% 72 0.2 70% 42
Southern Miss 68% 62 1.1 72% 40 -1.4 70% 43
Tulsa 72% 51 1.6 67% 58 -0.6 69% 44
Iowa 72% 52 1.6 67% 57 -0.6 69% 45
Minnesota 82% 27 3.1 56% 96 1.3 69% 46
Vanderbilt 60% 81 0.0 79% 19 -2.7 69% 47
Clemson 88% 16 3.9 50% 107 2.3 69% 48
Oregon State 70% 56 1.4 68% 54 -0.8 69% 49
Miami-FL 77% 39 2.3 61% 77 0.4 69% 50
Team OFF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Off) DEF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Def) % RET Rk
Boise State 86% 18 3.6 51% 105 2.2 69% 51
Western Michigan 77% 38 2.4 60% 84 0.7 68% 52
Cincinnati 55% 89 -0.7 82% 11 -3.2 68% 53
Texas Tech 68% 64 1.1 67% 59 -0.6 67% 54
Michigan 63% 72 0.4 71% 41 -1.4 67% 55
Hawaii 66% 69 0.8 68% 52 -0.9 67% 56
Rice 50% 97 -1.3 82% 9 -3.3 66% 57
Maryland 90% 9 4.1 42% 116 3.7 66% 58
Kansas State 67% 67 1.0 65% 66 -0.2 66% 59
San Diego State 52% 93 -1.1 79% 15 -2.8 66% 60
Oklahoma 71% 54 1.5 60% 82 0.6 65% 61
Purdue 64% 71 0.6 66% 61 -0.5 65% 62
Florida International 80% 31 2.7 50% 109 2.4 65% 63
Georgia Tech 89% 13 4.0 40% 120 4.1 65% 64
Florida State 77% 40 2.3 52% 103 2.0 64% 65
USC 55% 90 -0.7 74% 34 -1.9 64% 66
Texas A&M 58% 85 -0.3 70% 47 -1.2 64% 67
Missouri 64% 70 0.6 63% 71 0.1 64% 68
Arkansas 39% 111 -2.9 88% 2 -4.3 64% 69
UL-Lafayette 54% 92 -0.9 73% 36 -1.6 63% 70
Temple 72% 49 1.7 53% 100 1.8 63% 71
Fresno State 66% 68 0.8 60% 83 0.6 63% 72
Akron 74% 46 1.9 52% 104 2.0 63% 73
Iowa State 56% 88 -0.5 69% 49 -1.1 63% 74
Marshall 73% 48 1.8 53% 102 1.9 63% 75
Team OFF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Off) DEF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Def) % RET Rk
Middle Tennessee 68% 63 1.1 57% 95 1.2 62% 76
Georgia Southern 86% 19 3.6 38% 124 4.5 62% 77
San Jose State 68% 61 1.1 56% 97 1.3 62% 78
Ole Miss 69% 59 1.3 54% 99 1.6 62% 79
UL-Monroe 80% 32 2.7 41% 117 3.9 60% 80
Indiana 45% 108 -2.1 76% 27 -2.2 60% 81
UTSA 61% 78 0.1 59% 87 0.8 60% 82
North Texas 43% 109 -2.4 77% 24 -2.3 60% 83
West Virginia 85% 21 3.5 34% 128 5.2 60% 84
Air Force 34% 118 -3.6 85% 6 -3.7 59% 85
TCU 47% 103 -1.8 71% 42 -1.3 59% 86
Arizona 60% 80 0.1 57% 91 1.1 59% 87
Illinois 76% 41 2.3 41% 118 3.9 59% 88
UNLV 56% 87 -0.5 61% 75 0.3 59% 89
North Carolina 51% 95 -1.2 66% 64 -0.4 58% 90
NC State 48% 102 -1.6 68% 53 -0.9 58% 91
Northwestern 70% 57 1.3 47% 110 2.9 58% 92
Auburn 61% 79 0.1 55% 98 1.5 58% 93
Florida Atlantic 54% 91 -0.8 61% 79 0.5 58% 94
Houston 69% 60 1.2 46% 113 3.1 57% 95
Georgia State 45% 107 -2.1 69% 51 -1.0 57% 96
Texas State 51% 94 -1.2 62% 73 0.3 57% 97
Kentucky 63% 74 0.4 51% 106 2.2 57% 98
Alabama 46% 105 -1.9 66% 62 -0.4 56% 99
Penn State 50% 98 -1.3 61% 80 0.5 55% 100
Team OFF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Off) DEF % RET Rk Proj. PPG change (Def) % RET Rk
East Carolina 51% 96 -1.3 58% 89 0.9 55% 101
Arkansas State 39% 112 -2.9 70% 45 -1.2 54% 102
Baylor 48% 101 -1.6 59% 86 0.8 54% 103
Troy 57% 86 -0.4 50% 108 2.3 54% 104
Western Kentucky 47% 104 -1.8 59% 88 0.8 53% 105
Florida 46% 106 -2.0 58% 90 1.0 52% 106
Toledo 63% 73 0.4 40% 121 4.1 52% 107
South Alabama 37% 115 -3.2 66% 63 -0.4 51% 108
Memphis 37% 114 -3.2 64% 67 -0.2 51% 109
Mississippi State 38% 113 -3.0 63% 68 0.0 51% 110
Utah State 59% 83 -0.2 42% 115 3.7 51% 111
Buffalo 31% 120 -3.9 69% 50 -1.0 50% 112
Notre Dame 61% 76 0.2 37% 125 4.6 49% 113
Tulane 27% 123 -4.5 71% 44 -1.3 49% 114
Colorado State 58% 84 -0.3 39% 123 4.3 49% 115
Utah 23% 125 -5.1 73% 37 -1.6 48% 116
South Carolina 49% 99 -1.5 46% 112 3.1 47% 117
Stanford 33% 119 -3.7 61% 78 0.5 47% 118
Navy 34% 117 -3.5 57% 94 1.1 46% 119
Ohio 48% 100 -1.6 41% 119 4.0 45% 120
Wisconsin 35% 116 -3.5 53% 101 1.9 44% 121
Michigan State 27% 124 -4.6 57% 92 1.1 42% 122
Bowling Green 21% 126 -5.4 62% 74 0.3 41% 123
Louisiana Tech 42% 110 -2.5 35% 127 5.0 39% 124
Arizona State 31% 121 -4.0 40% 122 4.1 36% 125
California 19% 127 -5.6 47% 111 3.0 33% 126
Ohio State 29% 122 -4.3 36% 126 4.9 32% 127
Massachusetts 19% 128 -5.7 45% 114 3.2 32% 128

There aren't too many significant changes here, but LSU's defensive injury issues have bumped the Tigers' totals down just enough to bump Louisville (here's a look at everybody the Cardinals bring back) to No. 1 in terms of returning production. Still, experience is a clear strength for Les Miles' squad.

I have updated both production figures and recruiting rankings to account for shifts over the last six months; that means there's only one thing left to do: release updated team quality projections. I will do so on Friday.