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Pac-12 championship odds 2016: Stanford opens as betting favorite

The defending champion Cardinal are the favorites to win the Pac-12 championship over Washington and UCLA.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanford Cardinal are 15-2 straight up and 13-4 against the spread in their last 17 games overall. The Cardinal will try to win the Pac-12 championship for the fourth time in five years this season.

Stanford is a +300 favorite to win the Pac-12 title at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. David Shaw's Cardinal finished the 2015 season at No. 3 in the final rankings of both the Coaches' Poll and the AP Poll.

The Cardinal, though, will now be tasked with replacing their quarterback and a handful of starters on defense, but the return of all-purpose threat Christian McCaffrey on offense and Shaw's hard-nosed system on defense should keep Stanford atop the Pac-12 as the conference's top preseason team.

The biggest threats to Stanford in the Pac-12 North will likely be the Washington Huskies (+400 to win the Pac-12 championship) and the Oregon Ducks (+550).

Washington is trending in the right direction coming off a 7-6 SU and 8-5 ATS campaign under head coach Chris Petersen, and the return of freshman stars at quarterback in Jake Browning and running back in Myles Gaskin could help the Huskies take a big step forward in 2016.

The Ducks on the other hand are trending in the wrong direction, coming off a disappointing 9-4 SU and 7-6 ATS season last year. Oregon's fast-paced spread offense lives and dies by how well the quarterback is able to run it, which will put a lot of pressure on the winner of the Ducks' quarterback battle between Dakota Prukop and Travis Jonsen.

But even if the offense clicks, the defense could be a major concern for the Ducks.

In the Pac-12 South, UCLA (+350 to win the Pac-12) and USC (+550) lead the pack of conference title contenders. UCLA lost a lot of talent to the NFL Draft this offseason, but a year of experience under quarterback (and Heisman darkhorse contender) Josh Rosen's belt should help the young signal caller reach new heights in 2016.

USC has moved on from the Steve Sarkisian era with the hire of Clay Helton, who will attempt to help the Trojans get back to the offensive heights for which they used to be known.

Rounding out the conference odds for the Pac-12 are Utah (+1200), Washington State (+1400), Arizona (+2000), Arizona State (+2000), California (+2200), Colorado (+5000) and Oregon State (+5000).