Five sleeper candidates for 2012

Vols, Huskies among teams whose production, win totals could jump next season

Updated: January 13, 2012, 12:04 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
BrayAP Photo/Wade PayneTyler Bray and the Volunteers could rise up the SEC standings in 2012.

One of the recurring facets of the Bill James Baseball Abstract book series was his attempt to find leading indicators for whether a team would improve or decline in the following season.

In many cases, the best indicators occurred when a set of statistics showed that a team had a good amount of talent but still had ample room for statistical improvement.

That mindset can be useful in reviewing the college football world to see which mid-level teams -- those with five to seven wins in 2011 -- have the best chance of posting a Top 25-caliber season -- and in some cases, make a run at their conference title -- in 2012. In our analysis, five teams emerged as strong candidates.