Five teams earned first-place votes in the Associated Press preseason Top 25. The Southeastern Conference claimed five of the top 10 spots. There's no guarantee that the 2012 college football season will be a wilder ride than usual, but it isn't very likely that the eventual BCS championship game participants will have a linear path to the title game, either.
In fact, our preseason projections at Football Outsiders indicate we may be in for a season similar to 2007, when shakeups at the top of the poll occurred on a weekly basis. Twelve teams are projected to win between 9.3 and 10.3 games on average, according to our drive-based FEI ratings. There's a 41 percent chance that no one will finish the regular season without at least one blemish.
Upsets are a part of college football. Imbalanced schedules are part of the game as well, which means that even though a number of teams may arrive at a similar record at the end of the year, the projections indicate many paths to that conclusion. We broke down the regular season into three five-week segments and ran our FEI projections of average total wins earned at each point in the year. What follows is how the season might ebb and flow over the next 15 weeks.