Temple to play Toledo in Boca Raton Bowl
Once Temple knew it wasn't going to the Peach or Fiesta Bowl, it had a specific game in mind. And the Owls will play in the bowl that they aggressively targeted. Temple (10-3) will face Toledo (9-2) of the Mid-American Conference in the Dec. 22 Marmot Boca Raton Bowl. Kickoff is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN.
Once Temple knew it wasn't going to the Peach or Fiesta Bowl, it had a specific game in mind.
And the Owls will play in the bowl that they aggressively targeted. Temple (10-3) will face Toledo (9-2) of the Mid-American Conference in the Dec. 22 Marmot Boca Raton Bowl. Kickoff is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN.
Once Temple lost Saturday's American Athletic Conference championship, 24-13 at Houston, the Owls were out of the running for a chance at the Peach or Fiesta Bowl. (Houston will face Florida State in the Peach Bowl.)
So the Owls felt the Boca Raton Bowl was the next-best choice.
"From the very beginning, [coach] Matt [Rhule], myself, and the folks here really did home in on Boca Raton," Temple athletic director Patrick Kraft said Sunday in a conference call after the bowl bids were extended.
The conference gives its teams some leeway in deciding bowl games and by finishing as a division champion, Temple told the AAC that its preference was Boca Raton.
In the final hours, the other bowl that Temple was being considered for was the Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl. Connecticut is representing the AAC against Marshall in that game.
Temple will be playing a team from the conference where it was a member before joining the Big East in 2012. Many teams from the Big East became part of the AAC in 2013.
The AAC has some bowl ties against teams from the Power Five conferences. For instance, Tulsa will take on the ACC's Virginia Tech in the Independence Bowl, and Memphis will meet the SEC's Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl.
Rhule said playing a team from the Power Five wasn't his main goal.
"I think our matchup will be significantly harder than a lot of teams in our conference that will play big names with average to good rosters," Rhule said.
He also gave other reasons why he preferred playing in the Boca Raton Bowl.
"We wanted to play a nine- or 10-win team," he said. "We want to play on prime-time national television, and I think playing before Christmas will be great for our fans."
Getting fans to attend is another consideration.
"We have over 5,000 alumni within an hour-and-a-half to two-hour drive of that game," Kraft said. "We want to go somewhere our fans can really experience a bowl game, so that is why we are really happy with it."
Most of all, Temple, which finished No. 24 in Sunday's final College Football Playoff ranking, will use the bowl as a rallying cry. The Owls are aiming to be the first team in school history to earn 11 wins.
From a team that was 2-10 in 2013 to 6-6 but not invited to a bowl last year, Temple has come a long way.
"Hopefully, our legacy will be that we can win 11 games," center Kyle Friend said. "That has never been done before here."