When it comes to betting on NCAA football, Stanford is a lock because it keeps on winning PAC 12 titles and covering spreads. Since head coach Jim Harbaugh – currently with the Michigan Wolverines – revamped the Cardinal program between 2007 and 2010, Stanford has become a favorite for placing online football bets on. That did not change when coach David Shaw took over from Harbaugh in 2011. Shaw has lead the Cardinal to three PAC 12 championships – up to the 2015 season – and two Rose Bowl victories – including the most recent version, a 45-16 win over Iowa in January 1st 2016 – in four years, as well as to their highest ranking (#3) in the history of the AP and Coaches Polls.
All of which leads us to the 2016 Stanford Cardinal football team – whose season starts on September 2nd versus Kansas State. Stanford topped the conference preseason poll – the first time this happens in 56 years. Therefore, the Cardinal football team is the favorite to win a second consecutive – and fourth non-consecutive (they won back-to-back in 2012-2013) – Pac 12 Conference championship. Notwithstanding that, their odds are not quite so good as far as betting on NCAA football is concerned.
• Odds to win PAC 12 conference championship game: +345
• Odds to win NCAA football national championship: +2850
That may or may not have to do with the fact that Stanford lost five players who were essential to last year’s 12-2 record in the 2016 NFL draft. Outland Trophy and Morris Trophy winner guard Joshua Garnett was picked by the San Francisco 49ers; John Mackey Award finalist tight end Austin Hooper was selected by the Atlanta Falcons; First Team All PAC 12 inside linebacker Blake Martinez went to the Green Bay Packers; Second Team All Pac 12 QB Kevin Hogan signed with the Kansas City Chiefs; and former team captain and offensive tackle Kyle Murphy also went to the Packers. The hardest to replace of the bunch will arguably be Hogan, who was the starting QB throughout his four college years.
On the other hand, the fact that only 11 starters are returning for the 2016 season should not bother Stanford too much – after all, only 12 returned in 2015, and that didn’t seem to throw a wrench in the works. Furthermore, one of the five returnees on offense is Junior running back Christian McCaffrey. Last season, the 20 year old had an ESPY-nominated breakthrough campaign, going from 796 all purpose yards in 2014 to a record-breaking 3,864 the following year. McCaffrey was a consensus All-American, the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year, Pac-12 Player of the Year, Paul Hornung Award winner, and Heisman Trophy runner-up. Additionally, he is the first player to rush for more than 100 yards and have over 100 yards receiving in a Rose Bowl game in 2016, as well as registering a record 368 yards of total offense. It’s like he had a freshman slump, as opposed to a sophomore slump. The future has great things in store for McCaffrey and the Cardinal, betting on NCAA football-wise.