The 11th-ranked Texas Longhorns play at Cal Saturday night. It's a chance for Charlie Strong's fast-ascendant program to get a quality road win in its first trip away from Darrell K. Royal Stadium this season.
Texas is off to a stirring start, having beaten Notre Dame in overtime in Week 1 and then handled UTEP with relative ease in Week 2. The Longhorns seem to have found a good balance between quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes, and their defense has been imperfect but aggressive. You could make a pretty good case that Texas is the current Big 12 favorite, and that's not something many of us thought we'd be able to say this soon.
Cal sits at 1-1 after a 45-40 loss at San Diego State last weekend. The Bears started the year by beating a pretty bad Hawaii team in Australia, and they're still looking for a quality win. This would certainly be that. Texas Tech transfer quarterback and popular meme Davis Webb has at least been piling up numbers: 963 yards and nine touchdowns in two games. The Horns will be his stiffest test yet, by a long shot.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (or WatchESPN until Texas A&M-Auburn ends)
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Texas opened as a 6-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. Texas can cap a great non-conference run. Not that wins over UTEP and Cal would be anything so special on their own, but they're perfectly good supplements to that opening win against the Irish. Texas heading into the Big 12 gauntlet at 3-0 would position the Horns solidly for double-digit wins, and anything above 10-2 could probably make it hard for the 'Horns not to make the College Football Playoff. (If Texas loses a game to the eventual league champion, that could definitely happen, but now we're thinking a bit too far down the road.)
2. Cal's offense is a genuinely good time. Webb's numbers are big, and the Bears have scored a combined 91 points in two games. They'll find the Texas defense to be an entirely new beast, but the Cal offense is a legitimate test for the Horns, too. If Cal's going to pull off an upset, it'll be because this game turned into a shootout.
3. Look for lots of Swoopes. Texas has divided up its QB duties, with Buechele taking more snaps but Swoopes staying perfectly involved with 15 carries so far. Cal has given up a whopping 291 rushing yards per game, and the Bears' defensive front looks ripe to get bullied against Swoopes and the Texas offensive line. He could bite off lots of yards.