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SURVEY: Who's No. 1?

Early Saturday, Michigan and Nebraska were declared co-national champions.

Nebraska players said Coach Tom Osborne's 255th career victory should also bring with it a national title.

Michigan players watched the Orange Bowl on TV, and hoped Nebraska's win would not deprive them of a national title.

Heading into the Orange Bowl, many eyes were on Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning.

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Peyton Manning's Last Game a Bummer

By Tom Sharp
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, January 3, 1998; 1:40 a.m. EST

MIAMI (AP) -- The final game of Peyton Manning's college career was a bummer.

Not only did he play on a bum knee, but he spent the final minutes of Tennessee's 42-17 loss to Nebraska on the sideline wondering what went wrong at the Orange Bowl.

It was turnovers. The Vols killed their chances with three of them on consecutive possessions in the first half when the Tennessee defense still had Nebraska somewhat under control.

``You can't turn over the ball against a great team like Nebraska and expect to win,'' Manning said. ``We just hurt ourselves. If you give them anything easy their offense is going to make you pay.''

Nebraska did, and all Manning could do at the end was stand in the gloom near the Tennessee bench at Pro Player Stadium as the Cornhuskers staked their claim to being the nation's best team.

Asked to reflect on his great career, Manning said: ``I have mixed emotions right now. You never like to lose. But it's been a great ride for me.''

Manning's father, former All-Pro quarterback Archie Manning, said the family was proud of his son's decision to return to college for his senior year, and the way he handled the season.

``I think he had an impact on others, and I'm glad it worked out for him,'' Archie Manning said. ``He stayed healthy, won a (Southeastern Conference) championship, and we're glad he stayed. We're proud of him.''

Manning, expected to be a top pick in the NFL draft, wanted more than an SEC title, but it was not to be. The Vols were their own worst enemy in the first half, and the Cornhuskers were their worst nightmare in the second.

Manning completed 21 of 31 passes, but for only 134 yards as Tennessee went to its quick passing game to negate the strong Nebraska defensive rush. Manning's sore right knee, which put him in the hospital for five days before Christmas, did not appear to be much of a factor.

``We didn't want to hold the ball very long,'' Manning said. ``There were probably a couple of times where we could have thrown the ball long and I didn't do it, but some games are like that.''

It was the second-lowest passing total of Manning's senior season.

Manning threw short outs, hooks and screens, seldom throwing downfield more than seven or eight yards. His last pass was an incompletion midway through the fourth quarter. Tee Martin replaced him for Tennessee's final series.

At halftime, the Cornhuskers adjusted and ripped the Vol defense to shreds, leaving Manning standing on the sideline watching much of the second half.

``Our defense hung in there tough early, but I knew after awhile it was just a matter of time before they broke,'' Manning said.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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