- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2009

One part of the EagleBank Bowl’s matchup is set - and it’s an appearance that has been 30 years in the making.

Temple accepted an invitation to the Dec. 29 game at RFK Stadium, ensuring a regional presence for a game that faced an uncertain matchup going into the final weekend of the regular season.

It is the first bowl appearance for Temple since the 1979 Garden State Bowl, capping a remarkable turnaround in coach Al Golden’s four seasons. Golden inherited an 0-11 team when he took over in 2006 and brought the Owls (9-3) within a victory of the Mid-American Conference title game this season.

“What a great story,” said Steve Beck, the executive director of the EagleBank Bowl. “With their resurgence and their highly thought-of coach, and then on top of that it’s a little more than 100 miles away from us. It’s really a perfect match for us.

The Owls’ opponent is still to be determined. Either Army or UCLA will fill in the other side of the matchup, though the identity of the team won’t be known until next weekend.

Army (5-6), which has not played in the postseason since the 1996 Independence Bowl, retains a primary tie-in with the EagleBank Bowl. However, the Black Knights must still face Navy (8-4) on Saturday in Philadelphia.

If Army loses to the Midshipmen for the eighth straight time, the Bruins (6-6) would occupy the other spot. Beck said UCLA provided assurances the EagleBank Bowl was the only game it wanted to participate in after getting shut out of the Pac-10’s selection process.

“That was a boost of confidence to me,” Beck said.

The EagleBank Bowl was originally slated to receive the No. 8 selection from the ACC - a bump up from last year, when the game took Wake Forest with the ninth pick. The Demon Deacons went on to defeat Navy in the inaugural game.

However, the ACC produced only seven bowl-eligible teams, leaving the District-based game scrambling to fill an open spot.

The EagleBank Bowl did have a secondary deal with Conference USA, and Marshall was the only team in that league left without a home after the primary slots were fulfilled. However, the Thundering Herd accepted a berth to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, thereby permitting a Temple-Army or Temple-UCLA matchup to be created in the District.

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