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Gridiron Spotlight: UNT travels to Cal

UH and UNT's all-time series is split 7-7, but the Cougars have win four-straight over the Mean Green dating back to 1980. | File photo

UH and UNT’s all-time series is split 7-7, but the Cougars have four-straight wins over the Mean Green dating back to 1980. | File photo

Houston will be lining up against No. 20 Washington State Friday night at NRG Stadium, but the North Texas-California game Saturday afternoon at California Memorial Stadium should be on the back of the Cougars’ minds.

The results of the Mean Green’s matchup versus the Golden Bears can have a lot of impact on the Cougars.

Should UNT beat Cal, which is coming off a 20-19 upset against No. 14 Washington and received 95 votes in the latest AP Poll, Houston’s Sept. 28 away game against North Texas will carry a lot more weight.

Here are the biggest things to watch out for in Saturday’s North Texas-California game.

Fine in air

Don’t look now, but North Texas’ 78 total points are No. 31 in total points through Week 2, over 50 spots higher than No. 85 California’s 47.

Much of that can be attributed to UNT senior quarterback Mason Fine, who has passed for 535 yards and five touchdowns in North Texas’ win and loss against Abilene Christian and SMU, respectively.

Fine’s passing yardage, like the Mean Green’s total points, ranks No. 31 in the country. California sophomore quarterback Chase Garbers, meanwhile, sits at No. 90 with 349 yards.

The season is still young, but Fine’s five touchdowns has him tied with quarterbacks like Missouri senior Kelly Bryant, UCF freshman Dillon Gabriel and Wisconsin junior Jack Coan for the  No. 5 spot in the nation.

North Texas’ 284 yards per game is over 100 yards more than California’s 174.5, and the Mean Green’s 40 points per game average trumps the Golden Bears, who average 16.

While North Texas’ strength is in the pass game, California’s is in the rush.

Golden on ground

California sophomore running back Christopher Brown Jr. has carried the football as much as he has carried the Golden Bears.

Brown is No.1 in the country in total carries with 52 and has 277 total yards through the Golden Bears’ first two games, ranking No. 6 in college football.

In the 27-13 win against UC Davis, Brown led with 197 yards and a touchdown.

Brown hasn’t had any particularly explosive plays on the run, but his performance has been enough to compliment the Golden Bears’ offense.

If the Mean Green want to win, they must keep Brown under control.

And if North Texas can get the win, its game against Houston in Denton will be that much more interesting.

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