Florida International played in its first bowl game in school history. The Golden Panthers were the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Champions. They came into the game with a 6-6 overall record. They were led by an outstanding defense that had helped them almost pull off upsets against Rutgers and Texas A&M. FIU was invited to play in the bowl as the Big Ten Conference was unable to fill its slot in the contest.
Toledo entered the bowl with an 8-4 overall record. The Rockets were making their first bowl appearance since 2005 when they defeated UTEP in the GMAC Bowl. Three of its four losses this season were to bowl-bound teams: Boise State, Northern Illinois and Arizona. This was the fourth time in school history that the Rockets played in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. They played in the game when it was known as the Motor City Bowl in 2001, 2002, and 2004. They were 1-2 in previous matchups with their only win coming in 2001 against Cincinnati.
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl marked the first ever bowl meeting between the two schools. However, these two schools have met twice before in 2008 and 2009 with each University splitting the results. FIU leads the series 2-1.