With its Holiday Bowl chances already shot with three WAC losses, Air Force can start looking toward landing a berth in the Liberty Bowl.

Liberty Bowl?The Memphis-based bowl decided last year to annually take the winner of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, which is given to Air Force, Army or Navy, whichever does the best in head-to-head competition. A five-year contract was signed.

The first of the three games involving the service academies will be played Saturday, when Air Force plays host to Navy at Falcon Stadium. So even with expected losses to Notre Dame and BYU later this year, the Falcons could be bowl-bound, if they beat Navy and Army on Nov. 10.

The contract doesn't mean that, technically, the Liberty Bowl could end up with a team that finishes the regular season 2-9. According to Bud Dudley, the executive director of the Liberty Bowl, the bowl doesn't have to take the CIC Trophy winner unless the team has a winning record.

That could be a problem this year since none of the military academies seem to have stellar squads. Army was clobbered by Wake Forest 52-14 last week. And Navy lost to Virginia 56-14 earlier.

The Falcons are 2-3 already and will be decided underdogs against Notre Dame Oct. 13 and against BYU Nov. 3. That would give them five losses. They should be favored against Utah Oct. 27 and at UTEP Nov. 17, but a loss in one of those games could leave the Falcons with a losing record even with wins over Navy and Army.

"They have to have a winning record," said Dudley. He said they could take a team with a losing record if they wanted to, but that would be unlikely.

Starting in 1991, no bowl will be allowed to take a team with less than six wins, which is all Air Force needs this year to receive a bowl bid..NEEDS WORK: Vice President Dan Quayle showed up at a New Mexico practice last week while he was in Albuquerque to speak to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He even took his coat off and threw a few passes.

The reaction of Lobo receiver Eric Morgan, who ranks 6th in the nation in receiving? "I think his arm needs a little work," he said.

Stick to golf, Dan.SATURDAY PICKS: BYU is the only WAC team with the week off, while New Mexico finally plays a league game, as host to UTEP.

Utah (2-3, 0-2) at Colorado State (3-2, 2-0), noon - The good news is the Utes won't lose as bad as last year (50-10). The bad news is they'll still lose . . . CSU 31-13.

Navy (2-2) at Air Force (2-3), noon - The Falcons have defeated Navy eight straight years. It won't be easy, but they should squeak by . . . AFA 27-24.

San Diego State (2-2, 1-1) at Wyoming (5-0, 2-0), noon - The Cowboys will have trouble with Dan McGwire, but keep on rollin' . . . Wyo 32-24.

UTEP (2-3, 0-2) at New Mexico (1-4, 0-0), 7 p.m. - Two of the WAC's lower-tier teams battle it out in the Southwest. The Miners are worse . . . New Mexico 34-21.

Maine (0-4) at Hawaii (1-2), 11 p.m. - Why is this Division I-AA team going clear to Hawaii for a game? Probably for the frequent flier miles . . . Hawaii 37-10.