IT IS EARLY, but I am jumping on the Temple football bandwagon.

Over the next few weeks, it will get crowded and I want to make sure I have my seat reserved for the final stop.

I am dreaming big.

Perhaps if the stars align and every card falls right you possibly/maybe/might put Temple and College Football Playoff together in the same sentence.

Stop choking on your scrapple.

I concede that there is more likely to be 5 feet of snow in the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl than a storm of Cherry and White on New Year's Eve for the national semifinals.

Still, think big for a moment.

If you put stock in things such as preseason predictions, Sports Illustrated listed Cincinnati, along with Boise State, Brigham Young, Northern Illinois and Utah State as programs outside of the Power Five conferences that could find a way into the four-team College Football Playoffs.

The Bearcats were the prohibitive preseason pick to win the American Athletic Conference. SI said, "Cincinnati plays a home game against Miami and has a trip to BYU slated for nonconference play, so the playoff committee could find that Bearcats' resume impressive if they win out."

Well, guess which AAC team already burst the Bearcats' bubble?

That would be Temple.

If the thinking was that Cincinnati could creep into the playoff conversation on the basis of running the table, a perfect run by the Owls should garner the same consideration.

Temple's and Cincinnati's schedules are similar. The Owls opened the season with a win at home over Big Ten member Penn State, which would equate to Cincinnati beating Miami at home on Oct. 1.

While Temple does play Notre Dame at Lincoln Financial Field, a potential win over the Fighting Irish would hold as much weight, probably more, as if Cincinnati were to win at Brigham Young.

The point is, all the things that made Cincinnati a dark-horse candidate for a playoff spot hold true for Temple.

OK, now back a little closer to the reality of where this bandwagon could take us.

If we take out a playoff bid, the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl, which are the semifinal games on Dec. 31, let's see where we go.

Last season, despite finishing 6-6, Temple was not one of the 76 teams selected to play in a bowl game.

This season brings in another new bowl - the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19 in Orlando, Fla. This is important for Temple, because it will pair an AAC team against one from the Sun Belt Conference.

The AAC has spots guaranteed for seven bowl games - Cure, Boca Raton, Miami Beach, Hawaii, St. Petersburg, Military and Birmingham.

This year, when the Owls get their first bid since winning the New Mexico Bowl in 2011, it will come down to a preference for money, prestige of opponent or location.

Everything considered, the best option is the Military Bowl on Dec. 28 in Annapolis, Md. The opponent is a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference or possibly Notre Dame, and the payout is $1 million. Cincinnati won the AAC and played in this bowl last season.

The Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl against a team from the Southeastern Conference for $900,000 would be next, but the location is horrible.

The Cure offers the highest payout, at $1.35 million, and who doesn't love Disney World? Still, an opponent from the Sun Belt does not generate much excitement.

The other four have do not have big payouts or a high-profile opponent, but you cannot go wrong with any of the locations.

I, however, jumped on this bandwagon thinking of a wild dream for Temple football.

Outside of the semifinal bids, the College Football Playoff system leaves spots for four at-large teams into two of its other four connected bowls - dubbed the "New Year's Six", even though the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is played on New Year's Eve.

The NY6 offers an opening for a mid-major to step up and play with the big dogs. The right team with the right record under the right circumstances can slip in.

This season, the NY6 bowls open for the right mid-major are the Peach and Fiesta, so I am buying a bandwagon ticket to either Atlanta or Glendale, Ariz.

With Penn State and Cincinnati down, the Owls could be favored in all the rest of their games but one - Notre Dame.

If Temple handles its business, it would be a home upset over Notre Dame and a win in the AAC Championship Game, which it could also host, away from a 13-0 record.

Even a loss to Notre Dame could allow the Owls to wear the glass slipper.

Last season, Mountain West Conference champion Boise State, which had two regular-season losses and was ranked 20th, got an at-large invitation to the Fiesta Bowl.

That could be Temple this season, and I already claimed my seat on the bandwagon.

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood