Bowl Breakdown: EagleBank
Temple is treating its matchup with UCLA like a national championship opportunity
Battle to watch: Temple RB Bernard Pierce vs. outstanding UCLA DT Brian Price
UCLA is deeper and more athletic, but Temple should have the motivational edge
UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3)
Reason to watch: Ex-Temple running back Bill Cosby will surely make an appearance on behalf of his alma mater and crack a few tried but true jokes. Aside from that, it's worth watching to see what these lower-tier bowls can mean to programs like Temple, which will treat this game as its national championship. "When you play a team with the tradition, notoriety and brand like UCLA, it is sure to add significance in terms of perception and being recognized nationally," Temple coach Al Golden said. "Don't think we don't understand for a second the magnitude of playing someone like UCLA." Sure, there are too many bowls, but when a program like Temple gets a chance to share the postseason stage after a historic season, it shows the positive side of the bloated bowl slate.
Keep an eye on: Temple freshman running back Bernard Pierce. Behind an offensive line that features four All-MAC linemen, Pierce ran for 1,308 yards and 15 touchdowns despite missing the last two games due to a shoulder injury. Pierce, who ran for 267 yards and two touchdowns in Temple's 27-24 upset of Navy, is healthy and ready for the bowl game, where he'll face a stout UCLA defensive line anchored by Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Price at defensive tackle.
Did you know: Temple will be attempting to beat a BCS opponent for the first time since 2004, and in so doing win as many games this season (10) as it had won in the previous four. The Owls have lost 15 straight against BCS conference foes since beating Syracuse when Temple was still a member of the Big East.
Final analysis: UCLA's offense has struggled all season, and freshman quarterback Kevin Prince is recovering from a shoulder injury suffered against USC. Prince has been throwing and looks like he will play, but it is doubtful he will be 100 percent. Temple held six opponents during its nine-game win streak under 20 points and should be able to stand up to a Bruins' offense ranked No. 99 nationally in scoring. Temple's best shot is to grab an early lead and wear down UCLA with its strong running game. UCLA may be deeper and more athletic, but the edge in motivation should push Temple over the top.
The pick: Temple 20, UCLA 17.
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