Cal scored 20 first-quarter points and hung on to beat North Texas 23-17 on Saturday at in Berkeley, Calif.
The Golden Bears (3-0), coming off a 20-19 win over then-No. 14 Washington, improved to 9-0 over nonconference foes under head coach Justin Wilcox.
Quarterback Chase Garbers threw for just 129 yards and one score, and he led Cal's rushing attack with 70 yards.
North Texas' record-setting quarterback Mason Fine threw for two touchdowns, including an 18-yard strike to Jyaire Shorter with just under three minutes left in the game to get the Mean Green (1-2) within six at 23-17.
The Golden Bears' Alvin Kenworthy recovered the on-side kick at the Cal 20. The Golden Bears were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt.
After a false start from their own 30-yard line, Fine threw three incompletions and one completed pass that went for no gain, and Cal ran the clock out.
Despite being stymied for most of the first 15 minutes, North Texas outgained the Golden Bears 329-278 yards, with Fine throwing for 210 yards.
The Golden Bears took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards in seven plays, with Christopher Brown Jr. finding the end zone from 2 yards out and an early 7-0 Cal lead.
Three plays later, Cal's Jaylinn Hawkins forced a fumble when he sacked Fine. The Golden Bears' Brett Johnson recovered and Cal converted the turnover into a 32-yard field goal by Greg Thomas and a 10-0 lead.
Thomas then connected on a 44-yard field goal on Cal's next possession to put the Golden Bears up 13-0.
The Golden Bears extended their lead to 20-0 when Garbers found Nikko Remigio from 36 yards out, and it look like a rout was on.
North Texas finally got a first down and moved into Cal territory with the help of a personal foul near the end of the first period. But the Mean Green offense stalled.
After exchanging punts, Fine drove North Texas deep into Cal territory. Ethan Mooney split the uprights from 24 yards out and North Texas trailed 20-3 late in the first half.
North Texas struck quickly in the third, with Fine finding Jaelon Darden for a 68-yard touchdown.
Thomas closed out the Golden Bears' scoring with a 34-yard field goal with 8:44 left in the third quarter, and Cal hung on from then.
--Field Level Media