Temple's players, especially the seniors, obviously are ecstatic to be finishing their season in a bowl game, but beneath the sense of accomplishment is a layer of disappointment over the team's most recent game.
Temple (10-3) is preparing for the Dec. 22 Boca Raton Bowl against Toledo (9-2). One key for the Owls will be living with a short memory: forgetting the American Athletic Conference championship when the Owls lost, 24-13, at Houston on Dec. 5.
The team has had a week and a half to get that game out of its system, but according to wide receiver Robby Anderson that hasn't been long enough.
"We will always live with the fact that we were that close," said Anderson, who has 64 receptions for 873 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the Owls in all three categories. "It's slight motivation, but I don't think it is out of anybody's system."
The Owls trailed Houston by 24-3 past the midway part of the third quarter, scored 10 unanswered points, and failed on two fourth-down conversions in the fourth quarter.
After that result, one thing is for sure: Temple isn't happy to be just at a bowl game, even though it is only the fifth one in school history and the first since the 2011 New Mexico Bowl when the Owls beat Wyoming, 37-15.
Then again, Toledo is in a similar situation. The Rockets lost their season finale, 35-30, at home to Western Michigan. Had Toledo won, the Rockets would have played in the Mid-American Conference title game.
So the loser of the bowl game will end its season on a two-game losing streak. That is not the way any team wants to enter the offseason.
The Owls will leave for Florida on Thursday. They have been going through some difficult practices.
"We practiced on Sunday - 21/2 hours. We practiced really hard," quarterback P.J. Walker said. "We probably went harder than in the game we will play on the 22d."
It is up to coach Matt Rhule to help balance the fine line between working hard and having fun. The third-year coach said the players will work hard, but he also wants them to enjoy the experience.
"When they are down there, they are going to have fun," Rhule said. "I told them I am going to treat them like men, give them late curfew, let them go do fun things. We will go to the beach, go do some outings."
Rhule says there is a simple reason he wants the players to enjoy themselves: He feels they have earned it with all they have given this season, one in which the Owls can set a single-season record for wins by beating Toledo.
"I want our kids to enjoy everything we do because I do ask a lot out of them, so I am encouraging them to enjoy the moment," Rhule said. "All but a few haven't been to a bowl game, so since they are here they might as well appreciate it."
Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named a first-team all-American by the Football Writers Association of America on Monday. Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib (Malvern Prep) was also a first-team choice. Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller (Roman Catholic) earned second-team honors.