Temple to play ACC school in Military Bowl

The Owls will play Wake Forest University on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Redshirt-senior wide receiver Keith Kirkwood was the Owls' leading receiver in their 34-10 win against Navy in December's conference title game in Annapolis, Maryland. Kirkwood is one of the players coach Geoff Collins has tried to play on both sides of the ball. GENEVA HEFFERNAN FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

When the Owls returned to Edberg-Olson Hall after Saturday’s conference championship game, they were met by fans and the marching band. Temple clinched the American Athletic Conference title and back-to-back 10-win seasons with its 34-10 win against then No. 19 Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Temple is on a seven-game winning streak, including Saturday’s win, which clinched the team’s first conference title since 1967.

Director of Football Operations Scott Wallace put a seat belt on the trophy and sat next to it on the bus ride back to Main Campus and senior offensive lineman Dion Dawkins put the trophy in its case. Coach Matt Rhule said the trophy had to be cleaned Sunday morning because of all of the fingerprints on it.

The Owls will play in the Military Bowl at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. It is the first time in program history the team will play in back-to-back bowl games.

Temple will play against Atlantic Coast Conference representative Wake Forest University (6-6, 3-5 ACC). The Demon Deacons come into the game on a three-game losing streak. Rhule said he is excited to play an ACC team.

“Last week, was probably one of the best games we’ve played as a team and hopefully this will be one more chance for them to do that,” Rhule said. “If you play that way, you get a win, you get the 11th win, you get a bowl win, and that to me would be a perfect cap to the season.”

Temple lost last year’s conference championship game against Houston and ended the season with a loss to the University of Toledo in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl.

Rhule said the Owls should be ranked in the Top 25 after the game. He got his wish. Temple is the No. 23 team in the Associated Press rankings and rose eight spots to No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. It was the largest rise of any team. The Owls are also ranked No. 24 in the College Football Playoff.

“I think to finish the regular season ranked is a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s something our players should be proud of,” Rhule said. “I just want to finish the year ranked. I want to win the bowl game and make sure we finish the year ranked.”

“This is something for Temple’s legacy,” Dawkins said after the game. “This will always live on and this will always grow and every time I walk in back in that facility and see that trophy and see our picture, I know that we built something from nothing to something great.”

Evan Easterling can be reached at evan.easterling@temple.edu or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.

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