DALLAS — Even though Temple lost decisively to No. 19 SMU, Owls quarterback Anthony Russo saw one positive.

No. Russo wasn’t looking through rose-colored glasses, and he pointed out that there were so many things done wrong, but he did have some praise for his teammates.

“Last year in the bowl game, a lot of guys quit," Russo said, "and today we fought to the end, and I am super proud of these guys, and I think that was big time”

The bowl game was last year’s Independence Bowl, when the Owls lost to Duke and current New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, 56-27. The Owls were outscored 35-0 in the second half.

On Saturday, Temple twice cut the deficit to 10 points in the second half, but eventually the Owls couldn’t keep up with the Mustangs.

While he liked the team’s fight, Russo was disappointed with the performance.

“All night, start to finish, we didn’t play as well as we possibly could,” he said. “We missed a lot of opportunities with myself and the wide receivers, so we have to watch film come back and play a good UCF team this week, and make the corrections we have to make and get ready.”

Temple will host Central Florida on Saturday at 7 p.m.

AAC granted NCAA waiver for championship game

The NCAA has granted the American Athletic Conference a waiver to hold a conference football championship game for 2020 and 2021.

Commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed the news before Saturday’s game.

“It’s really a relief that this got done,” Aresco said. “The conference championship is so important to the league.”

To play a conference championship football game, a league needs to play a round-robin format or a round-robin format in the division.

The AAC has two divisions of six teams each, but when UConn departs on July 1, the conference plans on going with one 11-team division.

Aresco said it is important for the AAC teams to play four nonconference games, which would leave room for eight conference games. In an 11-team league, that wouldn’t allow a round-robin format.

The AAC is insistent on four nonconference games because it feels it is important to schedule Power Five schools. Temple has two wins this season over Power Five schools, Maryland and Georgia Tech.