A few weeks ago, the fact that Temple is bowl eligible would have been big news. Now it's been accepted matter-of-factly, which shows how far the Owls have come in a brief amount of time.

On Oct. 15 the Owls were 3-3 and looking very like a soon-to-be 3-4 squad when they trailed at Central Florida, 25-7 early in the second quarter before pulling out a 26-25 American Athletic Conference win on Keith Kirkwood's 8-yard touchdown reception with one second left.

That gave Temple a major jolt of confidence which lasted the next week when the Owls upset preseason East Division favorite South Florida, 46-30.

And there was no letdown in Saturday's 34-13 win over Cincinnati at Lincoln Financial Field, that made the Owls bowl eligible with a 6-3 record and three remaining games.

Since the AAC has tie-ins with eight bowls, the Owls, who didn't earn a bowl bid after going 6-6 in 2014, appear a shoo-in for a postseason game. After going to the Boca Raton Bowl last year, this would be the first time in school history Temple would play in bowl games in consecutive years.

Yet, the goals are much higher now, especially since the Owls have their first three-game win streak of the season.

So what does being bowl eligible mean?

"I think it says more that we are eligible this year and have moved on," Temple coach Matt Rhule said after Saturday's win.

No, Temple now has bigger fish to fry.

The Owls are 4-1 in the AAC and are tied with South Florida for first place. If Temple wins its final three games the Owls would clinch the AAC East Division for a second straight year.

The Owls own the tiebreaker with their win over USF, and Temple's toughest opponent appears to be complacency.

The final three games are at Connecticut and Tulane and home against East Carolina, teams with a combined 9-16 overall record and 2-12 mark in the AAC.

South Florida has a tougher three-game slate - at Memphis and SMU and home against Central Florida. Those three are (13-11, 6-6). Memphis is the only AAC team to beat Temple.

So Rhule and the team aren't getting overly excited about being bowl-eligible, but at the same time they appreciate the opportunity, knowing in the past how difficult it has been to earn that status.

"To be able to be bowl eligible is a credit to our players and our players alone," Rhule said. "They have battled and overcome adversity, they fought back. They have some quality wins this year."

Especially over the last three weeks.

So it was a telling sign that Temple wasn't having a major celebration when it became bowl eligible.

"We have higher expectations than that," Rhule said.

Temple can't slip up because South Florida doesn't figure to lose any of its last three games.

Being bowl eligible has suddenly become a formality that Temple has gotten out of the way.

Now Temple can focus on achieving a second straight three-game win streak, which would ensure the Owls' top goal of returning to the AAC title game.