North Texas at Cal
When: 3:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: California Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
Records: UNT 1-1, Cal 2-0
Last week: SMU 49, UNT 27; Cal 20, Washington 19
Last meeting: First meeting
TV: Pac-12 Network
What’s on the line?
UNT will try to bounce back from a disheartening loss to rival SMU when it takes on Cal in what could be the Mean Green's most challenging game of the season.
UNT fell to the Mustangs 49-27 just one season after beating the SMU by 23 points. It won't be easy to come back from that loss at Cal, which knocked off No. 14 Washington last week.
The Mean Green will enter their Conference USA opener against UTSA next week at 1-2 if they can't upset the Golden Bears. It's a tough spot for UNT to be in early in the season.
Cal can move to 3-0 and build momentum for a key nonconference game at Ole Miss with a win over UNT. The last thing the Golden Bears want to do following a huge win over Washington is to turn around and be upset by UNT.
When UNT has the ball
UNT is coming off a rare off night offensively in a loss to SMU. The Mustangs held the Mean Green to 20 points until the closing seconds and limited Mason Fine to 152 passing yards, his lowest total in a game he wasn't knocked out of due to injury since his freshman season.
Rico Bussey Jr., UNT's top threat at wide receiver, finished without a reception. Running back Tre Siggers exploded for 164 rushing yards and was UNT's best weapon.
The Mean Green will need a much better performance to compete with Cal's defense that is allowing just 16.0 points per game. Linebacker Evan Weaver was named the national defensive player of the week by several outlets after finishing with 18 tackles in Cal's win over Washington.
When Cal has the ball
UNT's defense continued give up big plays in the passing game while allowing SMU quarterback Shane Buechele to throw for 292 yards in the Mustangs win over the Mean Green.
UNT ranks last in Conference USA with an average of 282.5 passing yards allowed per game. UNT coach Seth Littrell said the Mean Green could look at changing up its lineup this week.
Cal has done just enough offensively to complement its defense early in the season and is averaging 23.5 points per game.
The Golden Bears lean on their running game and running back Christopher Brown Jr. The 230-pound battering ram has rushed for 277 yards so far this season.
This isn't going to go well for UNT.
The Mean Green pulled off the stunner last season when they beat Arkansas on the road. Cal is also a Power Five conference team but is a whole lot better than that Arkansas team, one that struggled all season.
The Golden Bears are terrific defensively and will present huge matchup problems when their offense is on the field. The Mean Green are also traveling halfway across the country just days after an emotionally draining loss.
Prediction: Cal 35, UNT 21