Revenge golden for Bears in season opener
BERKELEY, Calif. -- If the California Golden Bears wanted redemption Saturday night, they got it. No. 12 Cal beat No. 15 Tennessee in all phases of the game, as a 45-31 final score might suggest. One season after being humiliated in Knoxville, Cal proved something to the nation, and maybe even itself."A big win, no question about it," Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. "We been carrying this with us for a year." A season ago, Cal went 10-3 and won a share of the Pacific-10 Conference championship. But that achievement didn't heal the psychic injuries of falling behind Tennessee 35-0 in the third quarter of the season opener. "We had a great year last year," Cal linebacker Zack Follett said, "but everyone said, 'But Tennessee.' And now we can start off the season with the thumping we put on them, and I'm excited about that." Cal traveled the distance from "But, Tennessee," to "Beat Tennessee," fueled by big plays. The offense scored a lot. The defense scored once. And Tennessee punted once to DeSean Jackson, which, translated from the language of dumb football, means that the Bears also scored once in the kicking game. California made big plays and Tennessee did not, which is usually an accurate way to describe any victory. All told, a raucous crowd of 72,516 fans could leave Memorial Stadium confident that their Bears deserve national attention. Not even two minutes into the game, the Bears opened the scoring thanks to Follett's kidney-rattling, blind-side sack of Volunteers quarterback Erik Ainge, who coughed the ball up at the Tennessee 44. Bears linebacker Worrell Williams scooped up the ball on the first bounce and sprinted for a touchdown.