Colorado, WSU lead with returning starters

We already gave you a rough idea of returning starters in the Pac-12, one of the most popular -- and often inaccurate -- ways to measure teams for the upcoming season. But Colorado's indefatigable SID David Plati decided to go deeper.

You can see his chart here.

Plati reviewed how many total career starts FBS teams had returning in 2013, as well as returning 2012 starts.

Here are the Pac-12 teams with more than 250 starts coming back.

8. Washington State 359 (149 offense, 166 defense, 44 K/P)

9. Colorado 345 (149 offense, 146 defense, 50 P/K)

11. USC 338 (166 offense, 147 defense, 25 P/K)

13. Oregon State 329 (155 offense, 136 defense, 38 P/K)

24. UCLA 278 (144 offense, 120 defense, 14 P/K)

29. Arizona State (102 offense, 154 defense, 12 P/k)

Georgia Tech is No. 1 with 426 starts returning.

In terms of 2012 starts exclusively, Colorado is fourth (228), Washington State sixth (217) and Oregon State is seventh (216) in the nation. USC is 10th (205), Arizona State is 15th (199) and UCLA is 18th (195).

The take-away?

Well, you don't want to read into returning starters too much -- more often quality is far more valuable than quantity -- but this would suggest USC shouldn't be dismissed too quickly from the South Division race, though the numbers for UCLA and Arizona State are also good.

Further, this is some grounds for optimism among Washington State and Colorado fans. Lots of young guys who got pushed around last year are coming back a year older and, hopefully, a year stronger.

Finally, this could fuel the idea that Oregon State might be a legitimate challenger -- even more so than Washington -- to the dynamic duo of Stanford and Oregon in the North Division.