Quarterback Whit Taylor passed for three touchdowns, then ran for the clincher in the closing minutes yesterday as Vanderbilt beat Tennessee, 28-21, in a Southeastern Conference game in Nashville.

Taylor, a fifth-year senior, completed 24 of 41 passes for 391 yards, He needed only five plays to cover the 84 yards needed to win. His one-yard run around right end with 2:53 left broke a 21-21 tie.

Vanderbilt (8-3) hasn't had a better season since 1955. It will meet Air Force Dec. 31 in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham. The Commodores' 4-2 SEC mark tied Auburn for third place.

The Volunteers (6-4-1) will play Iowa in Atlanta's Peach Bowl Dec. 31. They were fifth in the league at 3-2-1.

Taylor's favorite target was flanker Chuck Scott, who caught two touchdown passes as the Commodores defeated the Volunteers for the first time since 1975.

The Commodores took their first lead, at 21-14, by moving 75 yards with the second-half kickoff.

Taylor, who compiled 433 yards total offense, threw to Scott on a 42-yard scoring play 1:36 into the third quarter to push the Commodores ahead.

The Volunteers tied the game the third time, at 21-21, on the first play of the fourth quarter when tailback Johnnie Jones ran 42 yards.