ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - In the biggest game of his college career, Bernard Pierce is treating the Gildan New Mexico Bowl as if it's just another game.
NFL scouts will be watching the Temple tailback. And his teammates are looking at him to be an important part of the game.
But Pierce said after Wednesday's practice at the University of New Mexico that this game, as big as it is - and it does not get much better for a Temple football player - is not about him.
"It's about the team," the junior said of facing Wyoming here Saturday at University Stadium. "It's going to be another team win or team loss, however, the outcome is.
"So everybody has to just give it 100 percent, and hopefully we can be victorious."
Pierce, who submitted paperwork to the NFL advisory board, could be playing in his last college game. Draft eligible players have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft, and the deadline to withdraw is Jan. 18.
Asked Wednesday if he will return to Temple next season and try to build on this year's impressive performance, the 6-foot, 220-pound Pierce said, "I have no idea."
For now, Pierce said his focus is on beating the Cowboys (8-4). A victory would give the Owls (8-4) their first bowl victory in 32 years.
While he wouldn't say it himself, Pierce will likely play a major role in the game's outcome. The three-year starter ranks second on Temple's all-time rushing list with 3,470 yards. His 52 touchdowns, 51 of them on the ground, and 312 points scored are career records at Temple.
Pierce rushed for 1,381 yards this season despite missing one game with a concussion, playing two others with a hamstring injury and being taken out in the third quarter of a number of games because Temple had huge leads.
"I'm feeling good," said Pierce, who had a career-best 189 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the regular-season finale against Kent State. "I'm a little sore, but that's about it. My body is 100 percent. And I think me, my team and my coaches are ready to go Saturday."
The Owls weren't exactly ready to travel on Wednesday. Their direct flight to Albuquerque was delayed an hour in Philadelphia because they had trouble stowing all their equipment.
Temple was scheduled to arrive at Cutter Aviation at 11:50 a.m. mountain time. Instead, the plane didn't land until 1 p.m., the time the Owls had wanted to begin practice.
Due to the delay, Temple practiced from 2:30 to 4:40. As a result, the Owls were late for the bowl's welcome reception and team dinner that started at 5 p.m.
But, not practicing to make the reception in time was never an option.
"I was going to get what I needed to get in," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "I'm not worried about anything else. So I'm good."
Addazio added that he was pleased with his team's first practice in the high altitude.
"I wanted to get out here on this field," he said. "I wanted to break a sweat and get off of that plane, get used to the air out here, get something good done, knock the cobwebs out and get that focus locked back in."