Temple advances to first bowl game in 30 years

Army or UCLA?
WASHINGTON (AP) - December 6, 2009

The time it took to find out where the Owls will play in the postseason only seemed like it took that long.

Players and boosters closely watched the crawl on the bottom of a giant TV screen inside the Liacouras Center on Sunday night and waited for Temple's name to flash, signifying the Owls' return to the postseason.

"We've waited 30 years. What's another 30 minutes?" joked athletic director Bill Bradshaw.

Rumors circulated throughout the room, as players received congratulatory texts from friends. Finally, about 20 minutes after the NCAA's news release, the room erupted when Temple appeared on the big screen and the Owls learned they will play either Army or UCLA at the second EagleBank Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington on Dec. 29.

Who Temple faces is contingent on Saturday's Army-Navy game, which will be played at Temple's home stadium, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. If Army (5-6) upsets its fiercest rival, the Cadets will get the nod. Should Navy win, then Temple will play UCLA (6-6, 3-6 Pac-10).

Temple beat Army 27-13 in October.

"Either way, it'll be a great team," said coach Al Golden, the MAC coach of the year, who went 1-11 in 2005, his first year in the job. "It's the best fit for us," he said.

"It feels good because of where we were."

The bowl bid capped a stunning turnaround for what once was one of the worst programs in college football.

Temple's last bowl season in 1979 (10-2), and 1984 (6-5) and 1990 (7-4) were its only winning records in the past 30 years until this year.

The Owls were in football's scrap heap after they were forced out of the Big East and had to play a year as an independent. They went 0-11 in 2005.

Golden went 1-11 in 2006 and the Owls started 0-5 in 2007. Now they're playing a meaningful game in late December.

Senior defensive back Dominique Harris says playing his final game in Washington will be especially meaningful. He grew up not far from RFK Stadium.

"It'll be great having all my friends and family from home to see my last game," said Harris. "Its a great opportunity for us. "Instead of sitting home and watching all the bowl games, I'll be playing in one."

"It was great just being here watching our name come up," said tight end Steve Maneri. "It's nice to have a destination and a goal.

"UCLA is a great team. If we play Army, we've had experience with them before. But it's close to home, so I'm sure we'll have a lot of support."

Note: Golden said he expects to have freshman running back Bernard Pierce back for the game. Pierce, who has rushed for 1,308 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, missed last week's 35-17 loss to Ohio that kept the Owls out of the conference championship game.

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