The Holiday Bowl, which has top-ranked Brigham Young as its host team, was prepared to make Maryland BYU's opponent for the Dec. 21 football game in San Diego, sources said yesterday.

However, the Sun Bowl already had made Maryland its top choice to play Tennessee Dec. 22 in El Paso and Maryland officials would not pull out of the Sun.

As a result, the Holiday Bowl has agreed to offer a bid to Auburn. But Auburn may have to play in the Sugar Bowl if Florida, the Southeastern Conference champion, is denied that berth because of NCAA violations.

If Brigham Young maintains its No. 1 ranking, it would mark the first time in 18 years the nation's top-ranked team has not played a major bowl. Notre Dame won the national championship in 1966, when it had a policy of not participating in bowl games.

Navy is being considered for the inaugural Freedom Bowl, to be played Dec. 26 in Anaheim (Calif.) Stadium.

According to executive director Tom Starr, "We've got a lot of irons in the fire. We're checking all of them out. There are a lot of complicated formulas."

Starr said "it looks like we are going to extend a bid" to Iowa. "They've always been high on our list. It looks like we are going to extend the bid. We've liked Iowa all year."

In other bowl-related developments, Independence Bowl officials apparently will make an offer to Virginia Tech instead of Houston.

Bowl chairman Cecil Lloyd said the game's selection committee would make its choice official Saturday and match the 8-3 Hokies with defending bowl champion Air Force Dec. 15.

Lloyd said Houston was holding out for a bid to a different bowl, but could replace Air Force if the Falcons lose or choose to go elsewhere.

West Virginia, which finished 7-4 after losing its final three games to underdogs, will play in the Bluebonnet Bowl against Texas Christian on New Year's Eve, bowl officials said.

West Virginia officials, who thought a fourth consecutive bowl bid was negated by Saturday's 19-17 loss at Temple, would say only that they hoped to be invited to a bowl. Bluebonnet officials, however, said they are planning on a West Virginia-TCU match-up.

Army will make its first bowl appearance when it plays Michigan State in the inaugural Cherry Bowl Dec. 22, according to an official of the game.

Muddy Waters, executive vice president of the Cherry Bowl, said, "We've decided on Michigan State and Army. When we first started, we wanted a Big Ten team. Rutgers was right in it until the very end. But Army, with its national reputation, we felt was the better choice."

The Cherry Bowl will be played at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.

Army athletic officials said they could not confirm the team's bowl trip. "But should that offer be made, Army's response would be an enthusiastic acceptance," said Carl Ullrich, Army's athletic director.