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BYU football now leads the country in this important statistic

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Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Puka Nacua goes high over Idaho State Bengals defensive back Jayden Dawson for a touchdown.

BYU Cougars wide receiver Puka Nacua (12) goes high over Idaho State Bengals defensive back Jayden Dawson (2) for a touchdown catch in a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

If returning production is an accurate indicator of upcoming success, the BYU Cougars football team is primed for very good things this fall.

It’s been well-known that the Cougars would be bringing back a bunch of production from last season’s 10-3 team, but BYU now is tied for tops in the country with the USF Bulls in percentage of returning production, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly, who regularly tracks the statistic and gave an update on Monday.

In Connelly’s last update in May, the Cougars were tied for second with USF with 85% of their production from last season returning but behind the Bowling Green Falcons, who had a whopping 92% of its production returning.

But Bowling Green has lost key starter Sy Dabney to the Illinois State Redbirds since the last update, which dropped the Falcons to 84%, which puts them in a four-way tie for second with the TCU Horned Frogs, Kansas Jayhawks and SMU Mustangs.

BYU and USF both remained at 85%.

Elsewhere in the Beehive State, the Utah Utes remained at 67% of their production from last season returning, tying them with the defending national runner-up Alabama Crimson Tide, Toledo Rockets, Missouri Tigers and Minnesota Gophers.

The Utah State Aggies, meanwhile, are 117th out of the 131 FBS teams Connelly ranks, as they are returning just 50% of their production from last season’s surprise 11-3 squad.

The last three teams on the list — Wyoming Cowboys (34%), Nevada Wolf Pack (29%) and Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (27%) — are all Mountain West Conference foes of Utah State’s.

That led Connelly to observe “MWC is hurting a bit,” and he noted that the Fresno State Bulldogs are the only team higher than 60th, although they are up in a tie for No. 14 with the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs at 78% of their production returning.

When the teams are ranked by conference 1-10, the AAC leads the way with 67.1% production returning, the Pac-12 is fourth at 64.5%, the Big 12 is ninth at 59.8% and the MWC brings up the rear at 54.6%.