Another conference champion, the SEC Eastern Division Champion South Carolina Gamecocks appeared in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Gamecocks also entered the game with an impressive 9-4 record after a 7-6 season in 2009. South Carolina has some of the finest young talent in the SEC in freshman running back Marcus Lattimore and sophomore receiver Alshon Jeffery. They also made their first appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, although they do have one Peach Bowl appearance: a 14-3 loss to West Virginiain 1969.
The ACC Atlantic Division Champion Florida State Seminoles came into the game with a 9-4 record in coach Jimbo Fisher's first season. The strength of the Seminoles this season has been their defense, which ranks No. 2 in the nation in sacks and No. 17 in tackles for loss. Florida State's appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl marks a continuance of their streak of active consecutive bowl games to twenty nine. Although FSU has never appeared in the Chick-fil-A Bowl under its current name, it has appeared in two games when it was known as the Peach Bowl, losing the inaugural game in 1968 and winning it in 1983.
Like South Carolina, Florida State has been a member of its current conference since 1992.
The two schools had met 18 prior times with Florida State holding a commanding 15-3 advantage in the series. The last meeting was a 38-10 FSU victory in 1991. This was the first time the programs had met in a bowl game.