Stat burns: Each top 25 team's best number to brag about

Think Clemson QB Deshaun Watson was good last fall? Just wait 'til he gets receiver Mike Williams back from injury in 2016. Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY Sports

With Mark Schlabach's most recent Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings as our guide, we have ranked everything from the weakest position groups to most likely future presidential candidates. Last week, we asked ESPN Stats & Info to take a deep dive into the numbers to find each top 25 team's scariest statistic.

So this week, we had SIG again dig into the numbers to find the opposite end of the spectrum: Which statistic should each top 25 team's fan base be bragging about the most?

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

New quarterback? No problem: For the fifth time under Nick Saban, Alabama will break in a new full-time starter at quarterback. If the previous four seasons are any indication, it could be another banner year in Title Town. The Tide won the national championship in three of the previous four seasons in which a new full-time starter was under center for most of the season. Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron led Alabama to the national title in 2009 and 2011, and Jake Coker was the quarterback during last season's championship run. The lone year under Saban in which Alabama came up short with a new quarterback was 2014 when Blake Sims helped guide the Tide to the CFB Playoff before losing to eventual-champion Ohio State. -- Bryan Ives

2. Clemson Tigers

Watson to Williams: DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams are the only three Clemson receivers with 1,000 yards receiving in a single season in the Dabo Swinney era. Williams fractured his neck in the first quarter of the opening game against Wofford last year and missed the remainder of the season. All quarterback Deshaun Watson did without him was gain more than 4,000 total yards and account for 47 touchdowns on his way to becoming Clemson's first Heisman Trophy finalist. Imagine the numbers Watson might put up with a healthy Williams and seven returning offensive starters. -- B.I.

3. Michigan Wolverines

Victors valiant: We should be seeing the word "victory" associated with Michigan quite often in 2016. According to FPI, the Wolverines have the second-easiest schedule of any Power 5 team in the country. Flash back to last year when another Big Ten team, Iowa, projected to have the easiest schedule among Power 5 teams, and look how that turned out. The Wolverines don't play a game outside the state of Michigan until Oct. 8 (at Rutgers) and their three nonconference opponents (Hawaii, UCF and Colorado) combined to go 7-31 last year. But keep in mind, Michigan is 2-14 in the last eight years (0-6 in the last three) versus Michigan State and Ohio State, the two teams standing in the Wolverines' path to a Big Ten title. -- Chris Fallica

4. Florida State Seminoles

Welcome back: Florida State returns all 11 starters to an offense that ranked third in the ACC in efficiency last season. The Seminoles are the only FBS team to return all 11 starters on offense, according to Phil Steele. This includes running back Dalvin Cook, who ran for a Florida State single-season record 1,691 yards in 2015. Cook notched 760 yards after contact, trailing only Heisman winner Derrick Henry and LSU's Leonard Fournette among Power 5 running backs. -- B.I.

5. Oklahoma Sooners

Running the table: Oklahoma and Notre Dame are the only schools to play two nonconference games against opponents that finished the 2015 season as AP Top 10 teams. The Sooners face Houston and Ohio State within the first three weeks of the season. This might sound tough, but FPI gives Oklahoma an 18 percent chance to enter the bowls undefeated this season, the highest of any FBS team. This includes a 90 percent chance to beat Houston and an 81 percent chance to beat Ohio State. The Sooners have a 73 percent chance to win at West Virginia per FPI, the lowest of any game on their schedule. -- B.I.

6. LSU Tigers

Fournette's flight: Fournette appeared to be on his way to the Heisman Trophy in 2015 with three straight 200-yard games early in the season, but faltered as the season progressed. But he did finish the year with a 212-yard performance in LSU's bowl win against Texas Tech. The four 200-yard games in a single season have only been reached by three other players in SEC history (Henry last season, Bo Jackson in 1985 and Herschel Walker in 1980). His next 200-yard game will also establish a new school record (Kevin Faulk is the only other LSU player with four such games during their career). -- Paul Kinney

7. Stanford Cardinal

Playing keep-away: Stanford averaged 34:48 in time of possession last season, most in FBS. When the NCAA single-season record holder for all-purpose yards is on your team, it makes sense to keep the ball as long as possible. Christian McCaffrey totaled 3,864 all-purpose yards last season, breaking Barry Sanders' 27-year old record and finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting. Only Oregon returns fewer starters on defense than Stanford's six among Pac-12 schools, so the Cardinal will likely look to keep the ball with the offense and in McCaffrey's hands for as long as possible again this season. -- B.I.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Is it Kelly's Time? Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly enters his seventh season in South Bend and has yet to win a national championship. Only one other coach in school history went his first seven seasons without winning at least one national championship (Elmer Layden coached seven seasons from 1934-40 without a title). The Notre Dame coaches with at least a seven-year tenure and a national title? Knute Rockne (1918-30), Frank Leahy (1941-43, 1946-53), Ara Parseghian (1964-74), Lou Holtz (1986-96). -- P.K.

9. Ohio State Buckeyes

The most important starter: Ohio State might return an FBS-low six starters, including three on offense and three on defense. However, one of those returners is quarterback J.T. Barrett. After splitting time with Cardale Jones for much of last season, Barrett is the undisputed starter for the Buckeyes this fall. Barrett is more explosive as a starter with a TD-Int. ratio of 3.4 and 12 percent of his pass attempts gaining 20-plus yards. When Barrett comes off the bench, his TD-Int. ratio drops to 2.0 and 9.1 percent of his attempts result in gains of 20-plus yards. Oh yeah, he's also 15-2 as a starter. -- B.I.

10. Tennessee Volunteers

Back atop the SEC East: Tennessee enters this season with the best chance (58 percent) of any Power 5 school to win its division, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. That would end a drought of eight years in which the Vols have failed to reach the SEC title game. Expectations are high on Rocky Top (some would say too high), but the Vols return an SEC-high 17 starters, including quarterback Joshua Dobbs, to a team that was one quarter away from winning the division in 2015. -- S.K.

11. USC Trojans

Rough gauntlet for Troy (but that's a good thing): The Trojans have the toughest schedule in FBS according to FPI, and that's generally a positive with the College Football Playoff committee. Nonconference opponents Alabama, Utah State, and Notre Dame have gone a combined 125-37 (the equivalent of 10-3 in an average season) during the previous four years. USC might play two top-10 teams away from home by mid-September, opening with Bama in Arlington and then visiting Stanford two weeks later. -- P.K.

12. Georgia Bulldogs

Running Bulldogs: Georgia returns its two leading rushers from a year ago, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The two combined for 1,908 yards on the ground despite Chubb suffering a season-ending knee injury on the first play against Tennessee on Oct. 10. That's more than 38 FBS teams had for the entire season. They also accounted for over 76 percent of Georgia's rushing game. -- P.K.

13. Ole Miss Rebels

Kelly's cannon: Chad Kelly returns to Oxford after leading the SEC in passing yards (4,042) and touchdown passes (31) and ranking second in the conference and fourth in the FBS in Total QBR (87). From the start of November until the end of the season, no player was more efficient than Kelly, who had a 95.9 QBR in the Rebels' final four games. One reason for his efficiency -- a cannon of an arm. Kelly led all Power 5 QBs with 21 touchdowns on passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield, while completing more than half of his passes of that distance. -- S.K.

14. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Sanders sequel: Barry J. Sanders, son of the OSU legend, arrives in Stillwater as a graduate transfer from Stanford. Oklahoma State could use the help at running back. The Cowboys averaged 3.6 yards per rush last season (second-worst in the Big 12) and was stopped at or behind the line on a Big 12-high 27 percent of their carries. Sanders averaged 5.8 yards per rush in three seasons at Stanford and was one of the most elusive backs in the Pac-12, gaining positive yards on 88 percent of his carries. With all five offensive linemen returning and the addition of Sanders, the Cowboys should have an improved run game, which could be enough to put them over the top in 2016. -- S.K.

15. Michigan State Spartans

Runners all back: Michigan State is the only Power 5 team to return three running backs who had at least 100 carries last season. Even with Connor Cook under center, the Spartans relied on the running game in crunch time, scoring 12 rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. That was tied with Ohio State for the most among Power 5 teams. Leading the running backs is LJ Scott, who notched six rushing touchdowns in the final stanza last season, trailing only Alabama's Henry among Power 5 players. -- B.I.

16. Washington Huskies

Seattle scoring machine? Washington averaged 25.7 PPG in its first 10 games last season, but it exploded to average 47 PPG its final three games, surpassing the 40-point mark in each. If the Huskies can reach the 40-point mark in their opener against Rutgers, it will mark the first time since 1944 that they've reached 40 points in four straight games. And, for the record, Rutgers allowed 40 or more points in five games last season and ranked 104th in scoring defense. -- P.K.

17. Houston Cougars

Heisman Contender? Greg Ward Jr. probably is not the first name that comes to mind when listing Heisman Trophy contenders. His numbers, however, point to a potential trip to New York City this season. Among returning players, only Fournette had more rushing touchdowns than Ward's 21 scores last season. He was not just a running quarterback either. Ward was the only FBS quarterback to run and pass for at least 15 touchdowns in leading Houston to a program record-tying 13 wins and its highest finish in the AP poll since 1979. -- B. I.

18. North Carolina Tar Heels

Explosive offense: North Carolina averaged 7.3 yards per play last season, tops in FBS. With the departure of record-setting quarterback Marquise Williams, it's fair to assume the Tar Heels offense might take a step back. However, that might not be the case as the offense returns seven starters, including All-ACC running back Elijah Hood and wide receiver Mack Hollins, who led FBS in yards per catch last season (24.8). Mitch Trubisky takes over at quarterback. All he did last season was complete 85.1 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions. -- B.I.

19. Oregon Ducks

Running Duck: Royce Freeman was arguably the most explosive running back in FBS last season. He led the country with 36 runs of 15 yards or more, which helped to set the school record for rushing yards (1,836) in a single season. No returning Power 5 player has rushed for more yards over the last two seasons than Freeman. His 3,201 rush yards in just two seasons already ranks fourth on Oregon's career list. Oregon has led the Pac-12 in rushing yards and yards per rush each of the last 10 seasons. -- B. I.

20. TCU Horned Frogs

The defense returns: TCU's defense was decimated by injuries last season, but there is reason to believe it will be improved in 2016. The Horned Frogs return a Big 12-high eight defensive starters, and after a number of young players were thrust into action last season, they have one of the most experienced units in the FBS. FPI expects TCU to be, on average, the 10th-best defense in the country in 2016, which should not be a surprise after Gary Patterson's teams have finished in the top 12 in defensive efficiency in seven of the last 10 seasons. -- S.K.

21. Texas A&M Aggies

Pressure, pressure, pressure: Texas A&M is not typically known for its defense, but with Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall returning, the Aggies should have one of the most fearsome pass-rushing duos in the country. Over the last two seasons, Garrett and Hall combined for 35.5 sacks, the most by any set of teammates in the country. Garrett alone had an FBS-high 24 sacks during that time. Texas A&M's defense took a major leap forward last season under defensive coordinator John Chavis, and it should only improve in 2016 with this duo returning. -- S.K.

22. UCLA Bruins

Protecting Rosen: QB Josh Rosen passed for a UCLA true-freshman record 3,670 yards last season. It helped that the Bruins only gave up 15 sacks, four fewer than any other Pac-12 team and tied for the fourth-fewest among Power 5 schools. This was a surprise to some as UCLA surrendered 77 sacks in the previous two seasons combined, second-most among Power 5 programs. While UCLA must replace its leading rusher and four of its five leading receivers from last season, it does return three starters along the offensive line. -- B.I.

23. Iowa Hawkeyes

Beathard belief: Iowa returns QB C.J. Beathard, who helped the Hawkeyes to a school-record 12 wins last season in large part thanks to his accuracy. Of the 52 FBS quarterbacks who had at least 350 attempts last season, Beathard is one of only four to throw five interceptions or fewer. Two of the other three, Paxton Lynch and Dak Prescott, are now on NFL rosters. The other such QB was Miami's Brad Kaaya. -- P.K.

24. Miami Hurricanes

In Kaaya they trust: Mark Richt has one big thing going for him in his first year as Miami head coach -- Kaaya's return. Kaaya averaged more 20-yard completions per game last year (4.6) than Clemson's Watson (4.1) and his TD-to-interception ratio of 3.2 is the best of any returning ACC QB. However, what will truly excite Hurricanes fans would be a win over Florida State for the first time since 2009, as the Canes have blown fourth-quarter leads to the Noles each of the last two years. -- C.F.

25. Louisville Cardinals

A QB is in the Cards: No Power 5 QB ran for more yards per game from Sept. 26 through the end of the season than Louisville's Lamar Jackson. He averaged 92.2 rushing yards per game in that span and had better than 300 total yards in four games, capped by a 453-yard performance (226 rush, 227 pass) in the Cardinals' bowl win over Texas A&M. Jackson also had more games with 120 rush yards and 100 pass yards (four) than any player in the country. -- C.F.