Temple (3-3, 2-1 Big East) entered the contest with consecutive Big East wins for the first time in school history and appeared headed for a third straight victory when it lead, 10-0, at halftime.
But the Scarlet Knights (7-0, 4-0) responded with touchdown passes on their first four second-half possessions to spoil the Owls' upset bid.
Rutgers outgained Temple, 261-49, in total yards after halftime. Leonte Carroo, a Scarlet Knights wideout, also blocked a fourth-quarter punt. And Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene recovered a fumble by Owls quarterback Chris Coyer and returned it 20 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
The loss matched Temple's worst losing margin in four seasons. The Owls lost, 31-6, at No. 5 Penn State on Sept. 19, 2009.
Temple, however, realizes the bad feelings from this loss can't linger. Nor are the Owls going to use this defeat as motivation heading into Saturday's contest against the Panthers in Pittsburgh.
"I don't think we need any extra fuel," defensive end John Youboty said. "Our coaches get us pumped up enough."
Temple's motivation comes from knowing it must win three of its remaining five games to become bowl-eligible for the fourth consecutive season.
The best opportunities to get victories are against conference foes Pittsburgh (3-4, 0-3) and Syracuse (3-4, 2-1) and nonconference opponent Army (1-6).
Temple will have a tough time in the remaining games against Big East powers Louisville (7-0, 2-0), ranked No. 16, and Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0).
As a result, it can be argued that Saturday's contest at Heinz Field is a must-win game for the Owls.
"We've got to show up Monday [at practice], and we've got to roll," Addazio said. "We took on [Rutgers] nose-to-nose and played with them in the first half.
"We've got to get back to work, and that's football. You get hit in the mouth, and you've got to come back and fight."
Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/OwlsInq