Temple's football team, which became bowl eligible with a season-ending victory on Saturday night, will not be going to a bowl game.

"It's very disappointing, and it was very difficult to go in there and tell those guys, especially the seniors, that they are not going to a bowl game," coach Matt Rhule said. "I think this team deserves to be playing another game."

The American Athletic Conference has five bowl tie-ins. Next year it will have six.

Temple (6-6, 4-4 AAC) had the sixth-best record in the conference. The five teams with better records - all bound for bowls - are Cincinnati (9-3), Memphis (9-3), Central Florida (9-3), East Carolina (8-4), and Houston (7-5).

The Owls became bowl-eligible Saturday night in New Orleans, ending a three-game losing streak with a 10-3 victory over Tulane in the season finale for both AAC teams.

Rhule gathered the Owls Sunday afternoon to give them the news. He said there were some tears shed.

"They are going to learn from this, they will," Rhule said. "We have a group of guys that have worked hard all season. Each week they became closer as a unit and were more fun to coach. But for me, the hurt is telling the seniors that they are not going to play another game in a Temple uniform. I really wanted that for them."

Temple won just two games in 2013, Rhule's first as coach. After a four-game improvement, the team will have to be better next season, he said. The Owls will play Penn State and Notre Dame in 2015.

"We are going to keep working to get better," Rhule said.

The Owls last appeared in a bowl game at the conclusion of the 2011 season. That year the Owls, then coached by Steve Addazio, finished the season 8-4. They went on to defeat Wyoming, 37-15, in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

The year before - in the Owls' final season under coach Al Golden - the Owls also went 8-4 but were not invited to a bowl game.

jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer