At least three Mountain West Conference football teams — possibly more — will go to bowl games this season.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, it's possible as many as six of the nine teams in the league will be eligible to go to a bowl.

Many things can and will change between now and early December when the bowl situation will completely resolve itself. Still, it's fun to speculate.

First, here are some certainties. TCU, already bowl eligible at 8-1 and ranked No. 20 in the nation, will be in a bowl somewhere. Second, Mountain West teams will be featured in the Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 22), the new Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego (Dec. 22) and in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco (Dec. 29).

Another possibility is the Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31), which pits the Conference USA champion against an at-large team. TCU, if it continues to roll through the MWC, may be an attractive choice to fill that open spot — as long as there are three other league teams that can fill the league's current commitments. Colorado State, if it beats TCU and ties for the league title, is also a longshot candidate.

Other longshot possibilities include the Fort Worth Bowl, the MPC Computers Bowl (formerly the Humanitarian Bowl) in Boise, the Independence Bowl and the Houston Bowl if previously committed spots open up because leagues don't have enough bowl-eligible teams.

So, in other words, it's all as clear as mud.

Here's a look at the six MWC teams still fighting for bowl positioning:

TCU (8-1 overall, 6-0 MWC)

The Horned Frogs can clinch their first outright league title since 1958 with a win over Colorado State this week.

Games remaining: at home Saturday vs. Colorado State; at home Nov. 12 vs. UNLV

What needs to be done: Nothing. The league's newcomer is already bowl eligible.

Chances of going bowling: It's a done deal. The Horned Frogs will play in the postseason somewhere.

COLORADO STATE (5-3 overall, 4-1 MWC)

The Rams are the only team with a real shot at catching TCU for the league title. They can move into a tie for the league lead — and have the head-to-head advantage — with a road win on Saturday in Fort Worth.

Games remaining: at TCU on Saturday; at home Nov. 12 vs. San Diego State; Nov. 19 at UNLV

What needs to be done: The Rams just need a single win in three tries to be bowl eligible.

Chances of going bowling: Good. The chances of being bowl eligible are outstanding, but Ram fans aren't known for traveling particularly well to bowl games, so if an MWC bowl-eligible team gets left out, it could be CSU.

NEW MEXICO (5-4 overall, 3-3 MWC)

The Lobos have been to three consecutive bowl games. They'll likely be eligible for a fourth straight postseason.

Games remaining: Nov. 11 at Utah; at home Nov. 19 against Air Force

What needs to be done: The Lobos need one win in two tries to become bowl eligible

Chances of going bowling: Good. After a bye this Saturday, the Lobos have a tough game scheduled at Rice-Eccles Stadium — but it is certainly a game they could win. Even if they lose to the Utes, they should become bowl eligible with a home win over struggling Air Force.

BYU (4-4 overall, 3-2 MWC)

The Cougars are still very much in position to earn their first postseason berth since the 2001 Liberty Bowl.

Games remaining: Saturday at UNLV; Nov. 12 at Wyoming; Nov. 19 at home vs. Utah

What needs to be done: The Cougars need to win two of their final three games to go bowling.

Chances of going bowling: Fair. The Cougars should win at UNLV this Saturday. That will leave them two chances to win one game — but neither one of those victories is a sure thing. Who knows what the weather will be like in Laramie in mid-November and beating Utah in the season finale will be no easy task. The good news for Cougar fans is that, should BYU get six wins, they will likely get a bid over other six-win MWC teams because of a built-in fan base of LDS Church members in cities like Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco.

UTAH (4-4 Overall, 2-3 MWC)

The Utes have little margin for error down the stretch if they want to go to a third straight bowl game.

Games remaining: at home Saturday vs. Wyoming; at home Nov. 12 vs. New Mexico; Nov. 19 at BYU

What needs to be done: The Utes need to win two of their final three games to be bowl eligible.

Chances of going bowling: Fair. None of the three teams the Utes have left will be pushovers. Two-thirds of the way through the season, the Utes are still tough to figure. It wouldn't be too surprising if they won all three games — especially since they don't have to leave the state with two home games and one at BYU. Then again, it wouldn't be too shocking if they lost all three. Ute fans traveled in record numbers to the Fiesta Bowl, but bowls this year may be hesitant to take a 6-5 Ute team for fear that fans won't travel since the season was disappointing as compared to a year ago.

WYOMING (4-4 overall, 2-3 MWC)

The Cowboys have the toughest road ahead of them to become bowl eligible.

Games remaining: Saturday at Utah; at home Nov. 12 vs. BYU; Nov. 19 at San Diego State

What needs to be done: The Cowboys need to win two of their final three games to be bowl eligible.

Chances of going bowling: Poor. The 'Pokes appeared headed in the wrong direction, having lost three straight games. They need to win two of their final three games — and two of those games are on the road. Even if Wyoming becomes bowl eligible, it is likely that at least three other MWC teams will be bowl eligible, too. And with a small fan base, it's likely the Cowboys would be left behind in the Laramie cold this December.


E-mail: lojo@desnews.com