BERKELEY, Calif. — California scored one for the West Coast with a redemptive win over Tennessee.
DeSean Jackson scampered 77 yards for his sixth career punt return for a touchdown, and the 12th-ranked Golden Bears avenged last season's humiliating loss to the No. 15 Volunteers with a 45-31 victory Saturday night.
Justin Forsett rushed for 156 yards and a score, and Nate Longshore passed for 241 yards and two TDs as the Bears (1-0) racked up the most points scored against the Volunteers in 12 years to win the opening weekend's only matchup between ranked schools.
Though both teams struggled on defense, Cal's offensive creativity and athleticism were too much for its SEC foes. The win also should quiet some of those Pac-10 detractors who cited Cal's 35-18 blowout loss in Knoxville last year as a prime example of the conference's shortcomings outside top-ranked Southern California.
As the clock wound down in the final minutes, the sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium jubilantly chanted "Pac-10 football!" at the departing Tennessee fans.
Erik Ainge had 271 yards passing and three TD throws despite an injured finger, but Tennessee's first trip to the West Coast since 1997 was hardly encouraging for coach Phillip Fulmer's defense, which hadn't given up this many points since a 62-37 loss to Florida in 1995.
Since then, the Vols even played a six-overtime game and another five-OT game without giving up 45 points.