Our staff takes on Saturday’s Texas-Cal matchup:
BRIAN DAVIS: On hot seats, shootouts and swagger
As I’m sitting here still waiting for the first pro-Steve Patterson email to roll in, I’m thinking this week was good for Charlie Strong. One of the biggest national misconceptions is that Strong is somehow “on the hot seat” now that Texas has changed athletic directors. That couldn’t be further from the truth. But a lackluster showing against Cal won’t be good, either. The Bears have a solid aerial attack going up against the Horns’ young secondary. We’ve heard about Kris Boyd and Holton Hill’s swagger. Time to back it up. Until Texas can consistently score enough points to keep pace in a shootout, I’ll take the opponent. So give me Cal.
KIRK BOHLS: Horns sure could use some Big 12 momentum, but …
This sets up as a crucial game for Charlie Strong, early in his second year. With so many tough games away from Royal-Memorial Stadium, his Longhorns could sorely use a home victory before embarking on a rugged Big 12 schedule that starts with Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma, two of those away from Austin. It’s hard to count on punt run-backs and fumble returns for scores on a regular basis, and I’m just not sure Texas’ defense can slow down Cal enough to pull out this win.
CEDRIC GOLDEN: Cal is Strong’s latest shot at a signature win
For the second time in his short Texas tenure, Charlie Strong has a chance to get a signature non-conference win that would provide dividends down the road. The Horns had UCLA on the ropes at Jerry World last year but gave it up late, costing them some needed momentum going into the Big 12 season. Spring ahead one year and they have another awesome opportunity against a respected Pac-12 opponent. I see Jerrod Heard being the catalyst in this upset. Horns win.
RYAN AUTULLO: After all, 2-1 looks a helluva lot better than 1-2
Morale picked up after the Rice win, but Texas still doesn’t have Vegas convinced. The Longhorns are a 7-point underdog at home against a team that missed a bowl game last season. Hard to fathom, isn’t it? This is the sort of swing game Texas needs to bounce in its favor to swing momentum. After all, 2-1 looks a helluva lot better than 1-2. The Horns did many thing well against Rice, and now must add a few more. A step back would be deflating.