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Manning looks forward to playing this time

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This time, Peyton Manning gets to play in the SEC title game instead of watching it on TV.

"I've watched it every year and I've always been real envious of the two teams playing," said Manning, who threw for 159 yards and one TD and ran for another in No. 3 Tennessee's 17-10 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday."I wanted to be a part of the game, and now we have a shot."

Barely. The Vols (10-1, 7-1 SEC) struggled for the third straight year against the Commodores (3-8, 0-8). Tennessee won 14-7 last year and 12-7 in '95, and Manning's TD pass was his first against Vandy.

"I hope the players understand that's not the last stop," Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer said of winning the SEC East for the first time. "We're looking forward to going to Atlanta."

The Vols will play No. 13 Auburn (9-2, 6-2) next Saturday, needing a win to move into the top alliance bowl - the Orange on Jan. 2, where the likely opponent will be No. 2 Nebraska (11-0, 8-0 Big 12).

The Huskers, though, hung on for a 27-24 win over Colorado on Friday and must beat No. 15 Texas A&M (9-2, 6-2) next Saturday to advance to Miami.

Also Saturday, No. 4 Penn State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) knocked itself out of an alliance spot with a 49-14 loss at Michigan State as Sedrick Irvin ran for 238 yards and three TDs and Marc Renaud had 203 yards and a TD.

The Lions appear headed for a Citrus Bowl matchup against No. 7 Florida (9-2), while the Spartans (7-4) accepted an Aloha Bowl invite and will play Southern California (6-5).

While No. 1 Michigan (11-0) is set to play No. 10 Washington State (10-1) in the Rose Bowl, the alliance lineup is far from set.

Here are a few scenarios:

With wins in their conference title games, the Cornhuskers and Volunteers will play in the Orange.

The Sugar Bowl, with the third and fifth picks in the alliance, probably will go for No. 5 Florida State (10-1) against No. 9 Ohio State (10-2), while the Fiesta, with the fourth and sixth picks, would go for No. 11 Kansas State (10-1) against No. 16 Syracuse (9-3), which won the Big East and an alliance spot with a 33-13 win over Miami on Saturday.

If the Huskers lose and the Vols win next week, the possible lineup could look like this: Florida State vs. Tennessee (Orange); Texas A&M vs. Ohio State (Sugar) and Nebraska vs. Syracuse (Fiesta).

If the Vols lose and Huskers win, look for: Nebraska vs. Florida State (Orange); Ohio State vs. Auburn (Sugar) and Kansas State vs. Syracuse (Fiesta).

No. 6 UCLA (9-2) and No. 8 North Carolina (10-1) appear to be on the outside looking in at this point.

Conference champions from the ACC (Florida State), Big East (Syracuse), Big 12 (Nebraska or Texas A&M) and SEC (Tennessee or Auburn) gain automatic alliance spots, and two teams are at-large selections.

(3) TENNESSEE 17, VANDERBILT 10: At Knoxville, Tenn., Jamal Lewis picked up the slack for Manning, running 37 times for 196 yards as the Vols beat the Commodores for the 15th straight time.

MICHIGAN STATE 49, (4) PENN STATE 14: At East Lansing, Mich., the Spartans broke away from a third quarter 14-14 tie on a 19-yard scoring run by Irvin, followed 2:56 later by Todd Schultz's 8-yard pass to Irvin.

(14) GEORGIA 27, GEORGIA TECH 24: At Atlanta, Mike Bobo threw an 8-yard TD pass to Corey Allen with eight seconds remaining as the Bulldogs (9-2) won their seventh straight against the Yellow Jackets (6-5).

Georgia appears headed for an Outback Bowl matchup against Wisconsin.

(16) SYRACUSE 33, MIAMI 13: At Miami, Donovan McNabb threw two TD passes to Jim Turner and ran 43 yards for a third as the Orangemen won their eighth straight.

The Hurricanes (5-6) finished with their first losing season since 1979.

MISSISSIPPI 15, (22) MISSISSIPPI STATE 14: At Starkville, Miss., Stewart Patridge threw a 10-yard TD pass to Andre Rone with 25 seconds left and the Rebels (7-4) added a 2-point conversion to beat the Bulldogs (7-4) in a game preceded by a fight between the teams.

During warm-ups about 40 minutes before the game, a brawl broke out that involved players throwing punches and helmets at each other.