I'm fascinated by Shane Buechele in this game against Cal. His father, Steve Buechele, was roommates with John Elway at Stanford, Cal's most hated rival.
Steve Buechele is from California (Lancaster, north of LA), and the Buechele family has a vacation house in La Quinta, Calif. Shane said he was excited to go to California, where "we have a lot of family."
Something tells me Shane Buechele will be just fine in his first true road game as a Longhorn and might have a little something extra for his dad's rival school.
The marquee matchup in this game will be the Texas defense against the Cal offense led by Texas Tech grad transfer QB Davis Webb of Prosper.
Against Rocky Long's blitz-heavy 3-3-5 defense at San Diego State last week, Cal abandoned the run and attempted a school-record 72 passes. Webb was picked off three times and SDSU led 38-21 in the third quarter before Cal rallied to cut the losing deficit to 45-40.
In last year's 45-44 Cal victory in Austin, the Bears ran for 280 yards against the Horns.
The Texas defense, which gave up 219 yards per game rushing last season (111th nationally of 127 FBS teams), seems to be improving against the run thanks to the improving play of DTs Chris Nelson (No. 97), Poona Ford (No. 95) and Paul Boyette Jr. (No. 93).
I think Texas gets after Cal's offense with a blitz-heavy scheme and has the defensive backs to mix coverage and contain Cal WR Chad Hansen (No. 6), who has caught 14 passes in each of the first two games.
TEXAS 45, CAL 23
Let's not sugar coat this: Texas has been an awful road team over the last two seasons, so there's no surprise a lot is being made of the Longhorns' first road game against a team that beat Texas one year ago.
The youth on the roster makes me wonder how the team will handle the environment at Berkeley, but all of the team comparisons to last season are being shut down by the Longhorns' performance on the field. (Maybe if Texas wins Saturday, we can stop with the "horrible road team" storyline for the rest of the season?)
While the Longhorns' defense will need to find a solution to stop Sonny Dykes' air raid offensive attack, I will be focusing on the offense and how easily it can put up points against one of the worst defenses in the country in the Bears.
This game could provide a glimpse of how well the Texas offense will fare in Big 12 play against conference teams that also put up a lot of points.
Texas should have no problem pounding the rock Saturday against Cal's defense, which has given up an average 291 rushing yards per game. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if two Longhorn backs end up with 100+ yards on the ground Saturday night.
Overall, I think Texas will continue its offensive progress and will finish non-conference play with an undefeated record.
TEXAS 48, CAL 31