45F University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Despite posting the second of what is now a school-record three straight seasons of at least eight victories, Temple was the nation's only winning team not to receive a bowl bid in 2010 after concluding that year in disappointing fashion.
The Owls ensured that it wouldn't happen again this time.
Looking to extend its longest win streak of the season, Temple faces Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
Temple was snubbed by bowl organizers after losing its final two games last season and finishing 8-4 - identical to its record this year. The Owls, however, closed this regular season with a season-best three straight victories, making another exclusion all but impossible.
Now, a win Saturday is what coach Steve Addazio covets most.
"You always feel better when you win your bowl game, it's the last game, it's our ninth win, we wanna get that ninth win, it's really important to us," he said. "It just leaves a great taste in your mouth. ... that's what you're striving for.
"I think there's a tremendous buzz around Philadelphia and around Temple right now - people want to see us play - and that's evident. So we gotta make sure we go play at a high level."
The Owls, who finished second in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference, are led by elusive tailback Bernard Pierce. The junior finished third in the FBS with a single-season school record 25 TDs and 13th with 1,381 rushing yards.
Six days after running for 157 yards and three touchdowns during a 42-14 win over Army, Pierce had a season-best 189 rushing yards and another three scores in a 34-16 win over Kent State on Nov. 25.
Pierce, who could be playing in his final game before going pro, seems likely to find plenty of running room against a Cowboys defense that's surrendering 230.1 rushing yards per game - sixth worst in the nation.
While Temple's ground game has been rolling, questions surround its quarterback situation. Sophomore Chris Coyer, who started the last four games, suffered a sprained shoulder in the regular-season finale and is uncertain for the bowl game.
Coyer was replaced by fifth-year senior Chester Stewart, who completed all six of his passes for 94 yards.
Not only will Wyoming have to contain Temple's running game, it will have to contend with the Owls' stifling defense. Temple ranks third in the nation with 13.8 points allowed per game.
"They run the ball really well ... they have a huge offensive line that will be a challenge for our guys to make sure we are gap-sound and don't get washed away," Mountain West coach of the year Dave Christensen said. "Defensively, they are in the top five in the country ... it will be a great challenge for our offense."
Wyoming (8-4) finished third in the conference behind TCU and Boise State, beating Colorado State 22-19 on Dec. 3 to close out the regular season. The Cowboys rank fourth in the country in turnover margin at 1.25 and allowed 11 sacks - tied for 11th.
"They're a wide-open team, they're a quality team, an exciting team, and I think it'll be a heck of a football game," Addazio said.
Wyoming is headed back to the New Mexico Bowl for the second time in three seasons thanks in large part to Mountain West freshman of the year Brett Smith. He finished third in the conference with a 126.2 rating, throwing for 2,495 yards along with 18 TDs and eight interceptions.
The Cowboys defeated Fresno State 35-28 in a double-overtime thriller Dec. 19, 2009 in Albuquerque.
"We had such a tremendous time down here last time and we were really looking forward to the opportunity to come back again," Christensen said. "We were hoping that this was the bowl we were going to get to. I think it is the perfect location for where we are located for our fan base to get to."
The Owls are participating in the fourth bowl game in school history. They most recently fell 30-21 to UCLA in the 2009 EagleBank Bowl, a game that snapped their 29-year bowl drought.
Wyoming has split its 12 previous bowl appearances, winning two in a row following six consecutive defeats.
The Cowboys took the only meeting in this series 38-23 on Sept. 1, 1990.