Both participants were football-only members of the Big West Conference in the mid-1990s. This was the 7th football game between Louisiana Tech and Northern Illinois and the first since 1996. Tech now holds a 6-1 edge over Northern Illinois.
The game was Louisiana Tech's 4th appearance in the Independence Bowl and the first appearance since 1990 when Tech tied Maryland 34-34. The Bulldogs now hold an overall record of 2-1-1 in the Independence Bowl. The victory over Northern Illinois marked the first bowl game victory by the Bulldogs since their 1977 Independence Bowl victory over Louisville.
This was Northern Illinois' 1st appearance in the Independence Bowl and the 4th overall appearance in Division I FBS Bowl Games. Their previous appearances in bowl games include the 1983 California Bowl (20-13 victory over Cal State-Fullerton), 2004 Silicon Valley Classic (34-21 victory over Troy), and 2006 Poinsettia Bowl (37-7 loss to TCU).