The game marked the Cyclones' first postseason trip since 2005, and Minnesota's third Insight Bowl appearance in the last four years. The Gophers lost in 2008 to Kansas and in 2006 to Texas Tech. Iowa State played in the 2000 Insight Bowl, beating Pittsburgh 37–29. Cyclones first-year coach Paul Rhoads turned around a team that finished 2–10 in 2008 and was winless in eight Big 12 games. Iowa State's last bowl appearance was a 27–24 loss to TCU in the 2005 Houston Bowl, now the Texas Bowl.
Given the relative close proximity between them, the two schools have played each other a total of 25 times. Minnesota has dominated the matchup holding the series lead 22–2–1 up until the bowl game. However, only one of the games has been played in Iowa and the two teams have only played each other three times since 1924. The last meeting between the opponents was a 53–29 Gophers victory in 1997. This was the first bowl game played between the two schools.
Austen Arnaud threw for 216 yards and a touchdown and ran for 77 yards and a touchdown as the Cyclones got their 1st bowl win since 2004. The Gophers were paced by receiver, Da'Jon McKnight who had 7 catches for 124 yards. With only a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Minnesota quarterback Marqueis Gray fumbled the ball at the Iowa State 15 yard line. The ball was recovered by Ter'ran Benton of Iowa State. This prevented Minnesota from taking a late fourth quarter lead with either a field goal or a touchdown, making it an important play in the Iowa State victory. Gray did finish the game with 261 yards passing and a touchdown.
Minnesota could not snap a 3 game bowl losing streak, the game also was their 3rd Insight Bowl loss, a new record for the bowl.