JEFF TEDFORD SAYS Cal turned its attention to Tennessee on Wednesday — 11 days before the season opener — and I have to ask: Why? The only positive in last year's humiliating defeat in Knoxville was the knowledge it could be a rallying point in the Bears' offseason. Instead of screaming at Steve Levy or congratulating Marshawn Lynch on his brilliant career, Tedford should have been trumpeting the Tennessee-revenge motive from the moment his triumphant Bears skipped off the Qualcomm Stadium field last December. I'm not sure when I turned into a Notre Dame-type fan, but for the second year in a row, Cal's season will be rendered basically meaningless if it doesn't beat Tennessee. Sure, the Bears still could run the table and wind up in the Rose Bowl. But as last year pointed out, a team unable to beat a midlevel SEC club isn't going to whitewash the Pac-10, and even one conference defeat would lead to the same obscurity as last season's bowl appearance. Meanwhile, a win over Tennessee would merge the Cal bandwagon onto I-5, heading toward Pasadena at about 100 mph. The Bears could even lose to USC and still make the Rose Bowl, if Pete Carroll's club were to head to New Orleans for the national championship game. Such is the current state of the college game that a Sept.1 matchup with Tennessee could make or break Cal's chances of going to the Rose Bowl. It is, without a doubt, the most important game the Bears will play all season. It's so big, it should have gotten the team's attention a long time ago.