LAS VEGAS -- There are no national championship possibilities or multimillion-dollar bowl bids at stake. In that sense, the WAC Championship game between Air Force and BYU seems almost anticlimactic. Both the Falcons and Cougars have long made their postseason plans.

But if Saturday's matchup is meaningless, someone forgot to tell Air Force."This game means everything to us," said running back Jemal Singleton. "Before each season we have three goals: win the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, go to a bowl game and win the WAC, not necessarily in that order.

"We won the Commander-in-Chief trophy, we're going to a bowl game and now we have our third and final goal in front of us.

Unless we get that last one, our season isn't complete."

For Air Force, the game has a big-time feel. It is the Falcons' final shot to win a WAC title outright since joining the league in 1980 after sharing the crown with BYU in 1985 and 1995. The Flyboys desperately desire a championship ring they can call their own.

"I'm a senior and it's my last hurrah," said All-WAC cornerback Tim Curry. "I have been playing football since I was 6 years old and I've never won a championship. This is our bowl game. It's our season. We've played all year to get to this game and we want to win it. Nobody remembers the second-place team."

Still, the championship tilt doesn't have quite the pre-game hype and buildup it had in 1996, a game that featured BYU and Wyoming.

The Cougars were 13-1, ranked fifth in the nation and vying for a Bowl Alliance spot while the Cowboys had one loss and were ranked in the top 20. As it turned out, BYU won and went to the Cotton Bowl, though snubbed by the Alliance, while Wyoming lost and stayed home for the holidays.

This time around, there's no suspense surrounding postseason implications. Air Force knows it is going to the Oahu Bowl on Christmas Day, possibly to face Central Florida, and BYU has reservations in the Liberty Bowl on New Year's Eve against unbeaten Tulane.

For the sake of potential television ratings and ticket sales, the Liberty and Oahu bowls have an enormous stake in what happens in Las Vegas today.

Should the Cougars win, they would likely crack the top 25, adding some luster to a game that also includes the No. 9 Green Wave. With coach Tommy Bowden accepting the job at Clemson this week, the appeal of the Liberty Bowl has already taken a bit of a hit.

At the time he officially extended an invitation to BYU, Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart told Cougar coaches and players at a press conference that he is counting on BYU beating Air Force. "We have faith in you," he said. "We'll be down there cheering for you."

Can't blame Liberty Bowl officials for that line of thinking. On paper, a 10-3 record looks a lot better than 9-4. And there is the perception that a team coming off a conference championship game loss is damaged goods.

Air Force, rated 13th and 17th, respectively, in the polls, is the only ranked team that will play in the Christmas Day doubleheader in Honolulu as Washington and Colorado will square off in the first game. No doubt the Oahu Bowl prefers the Falcons be 11-1, as opposed to a 10-2, when they arrive on the islands.

More importantly for Air Force, it wants to arrive on the islands knowing it is the WAC champion.