Five sleeper candidates for 2012

Tyler Bray and the Volunteers could rise up the SEC standings in 2012. AP Photo/Wade Payne

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.