For the third year in a row, Temple’s postseason fate lies in the hands of college football bowl officials.
With a win against Kent State this weekend, the Owls finished their regular season with an 8-4 overall record and are hoping to pick up an at-large bid in a non-Bowl Championship Series bowl game for the second time in three years.
“We’re an eight-win team, we’re playing great football in November, we have marquee players and we’re in a large media market,” coach Steve Addazio said. “There’s no question Temple will be in a bowl game. Anything less than that would be ridiculous.”
After making it to a bowl game in 2009, Temple was one of only two bowl-eligible teams in the country to not be selected to a bowl game last year. The Owls said they’re confident this year’s result will be different.
“[After last year] I would never let us not get to a bowl game,” senior defensive end Adrian Robinson said. “Hopefully, I’ve fulfilled that promise.”
“We’ve improved from last year,” redshirt-senior quarterback Chester Stewart added. “Maybe they’ll go off that, maybe they won’t. We just want to be able to play one more game.”
There are no defined criteria by which a bowl selects a team to participate, but the one commonality throughout the process is that bowls tend to select teams that are going to make the most money.
For Temple, the Owls’ résumé includes an average attendance of more than 28,000, three games televised on ESPN, a win against a BCS opponent and one great big marquee player in junior running back Bernard Pierce, who currently is tied for second in the country in rushing touchdowns.
If chosen by a bowl, Temple would receive an invitation sometime this week on or before Bowl Selection Day this Sunday. The bowl selection process is so complex and variant that it’s nearly impossible to predict, but there are a number of bowls that Temple could be hearing from this week.
There are three bowl games with automatic tie-ins to the Mid-American Conference. The GoDaddy.com Bowl gets the first selection of a team from the MAC, the Little Caesars Bowl gets second pick and the Idaho Potato Bowl third.
Temple will likely be competing with Northern Illinois, Toledo or Ohio for these spots. Although the Owls have a higher attendance average than each of those three teams, both Toledo and Ohio beat Temple in the regular season and Northern Illinois is the MAC’s No.1 seed entering the MAC Championship game.
While the GoDaddy.com Bowl has the first pick of any MAC team, it is not required to choose the MAC champion.
Through a contingency agreement, the fourth team from the MAC could go as an alternate to the New Mexico Bowl, which matches up a Mountain West Conference team against a team from the Pacific-12 Conference. Through another agreement, the fifth team from the MAC could be an alternate for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which was scheduled to pit a team from Pac-12 versus an Army before the Black Knights became bowl ineligible.
In order for a team from the MAC to become eligible to play in the New Mexico Bowl, the Pac-12 conference must not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill their non-BCS requirements. As such, Temple is hoping that both Oregon and Stanford get bids in BCS bowls out of the Pac-12.
In addition, the Western Athletic Conference has a contingency agreement with the New Mexico Bowl that would put a WAC team in the Pac-12’s spot. Therefore, Temple fans should hope that Hawaii loses to Brigham Young on Saturday to ensure that that doesn’t happen so the Owls could potentially take that spot.
Probably Temple’s best chance of gaining an at-large bid separate from the MAC tie-ins, the Military Bowl will match up the eighth choice from the ACC against an at-large bid.
Temple has some history with the Military Bowl as the Owls competed against UCLA in its former title, the EagleBank Bowl, in 2009. The 2009 game drew more than 23,000 fans and due to its close proximity, Temple could be an attractive choice for an at-large bid.
Temple will face Air Force in the New Mexico bowl.