The 1982 squad finished the regular season 7–5. The Falcons lost to Tulsa, Texas Tech, New Mexico, Colorado State and Hawaii. They accepted an invitation to play in the Hall of Fame Classic Bowl against Vanderbilt following their upset victory over Notre Dame November 21. The appearance was the fourth overall bowl appearance and the first in the Hall of Fame Classic Bowl for Air Force. Stanford was the original selection, but became ineligible for bowl participation following their loss to Cal.
The 1982 Vanderbilt squad finished the regular season 8–3. The Commodores lost to North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. They accepted an invitation to play in the Hall of Fame Classic Bowl following their 27–16 victory over Tennessee–Chattanooga November 20. The appearance was the third overall bowl appearance and the first in the Hall of Fame Classic Bowl for Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt got on the scoreboard first after Whit Taylor threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Norman Jordan to give the Commodores a 7–0 lead. Air Force responded with a one-yard Marty Louthan touchdown later in the first and then on a 19-yard Mike Brown run early in the second to take a 14–7 lead. The Commodores then scored a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes by Taylor to take a 21–14 halftime lead. In the third, the Falcons scored on a 21-yard Sean Pavlich field goal and the Commodores on Jordan's third touchdown reception of the evening to give Vanderbilt a 28–17 lead entering the fourth quarter. In the fourth, Air Force scored 19 unanswered points on a trio of touchdown runs to secure the 36–28 victory. For their performances, Vanderbilt quarterback Whit Taylor and Air Force defensive end Carl Dieudonne were named co-MVPs of the game.