HOLLYWOOD -- Stanford is the two-time defending Pac-12 champion with back-to-back victories over North rival Oregon. Yet the Ducks were the overwhelming pick to win the division in the preseason media poll.

The Ducks collected 37 first-place votes; Stanford had two.

"It's just preseason stuff, and in the end it doesn't matter," said Cardinal safety Jordan Richards, declining to play the (lack of) respect card.

"Our goal is to win the Pac-12 championship and the national championship. That's going to take being 1-0 each Saturday.

"Anything short of a title will be a little disappointing.''

Oregon and Stanford have a comparable number of returning starters and both are replacing well-respected defensive coordinators. But the Ducks are under the command of Marcus Mariota, arguably the top quarterback in the country.

"The Oregon we saw last year is not the Oregon we'll see this year, and the Stanford we saw last year is not the Stanford we'll see this year,'' Richards said. "What we've done in the past doesn't mean anything.

"It's nice to have a target on your back, because it means you've done good work. But we're out there hunting; we're not defending all the time.''

For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.



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