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Michigan Football ranks No. 5 nationally in returning production

The Wolverines return the most production in the Big Ten.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan Wolverines will enter the 2023 season with national championship expectations. Team 144 will feature several familiar faces on either side of the ball, and that is not going unnoticed on the national scale.

ESPN released its annual list ranking all 133 FBS in terms of returning production. To no one’s surprise, Michigan came in at No. 5 in the country, No. 3 in the Power Five (only trailing No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Kansas), and No. 1 in the Big Ten.

Michigan returning production: 81% (Offense 84%, Defense 78%)

The Wolverines are projected to return quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running back and Heisman hopeful Blake Corum, and nine of their 12 defenders with 400-plus snaps. Plus, Jim Harbaugh made deft use of the portal, adding reinforcements to both the linebacking corps and an already awesome offensive line. Both Ohio State and Penn State enter 2023 with hopes of preventing a third straight Big Ten title for Michigan, but they’ll have to clear a really high bar.

Based on percentages, Michigan clears the second-place team in the Big Ten (Rutgers) by a massive 8%. The same difference separates the No. 2 and No. 8 teams in the conference.

Rest of the Big Ten’s Returning Production:

23. Rutgers: 73% (Offense 73%, Defense 72%)

27. Wisconsin: 72% (Offense 75%, Defense 68%)

39. Nebraska: 69% (Offense 72%, Defense 66%)

41. Indiana: 69% (Offense 65%, Defense 72%)

45. Michigan State: 68% (Offense 80%, Defense 56%)

48. Ohio State: 67% (Offense 57%, Defense 77%)

56. Penn State: 65% (Offense 55%, Defense 75%)

57. Purdue: 65% (Offense 71%, Defense 59%)

65. Maryland: 64% (Offense 64%, Defense 63%)

71. Illinois: 63% (Offense 64%, Defense 62%)

87. Minnesota: 58% (Offense 59%, Defense 57%)

94. Iowa: 57% (Offense 64%, Defense 49%)

96. Northwestern: 56% (Offense 46%, Defense 66%)

Returning production does not guarantee victories. Just because the Scarlet Knights return 73% of their production does not mean they will be better than Alabama which ranks No. 125 with only 40% of their 2022 production returning.

However, successful teams like Michigan who finished third in the S+P Rankings last year, and returning experienced players will greatly aid their bid for their first national championship since 1997.