Air Force officially accepted an invitation to the bowl on December 1, 2010. The Falcons finished the regular season with an 8–4 record. The appearance in the Independence Bowl was the 4th straight year that Air Force appeared in a bowl game. The Falcons played in the Armed Forces Bowl for the preceding 3 seasons. Air Force played in its third Independence Bowl in school history. They entered the game with a 2–0 record in the bowl with a 9–3 victory over Ole Miss in 1983 and a 23–7 win over Virginia Tech in 1984. Air Force enters the game as the second ranked team in rushing offense with 317.9 yards per game, 437.4 yards in total offense.
Georgia Tech came into the Independence Bowl with a 6–6 record. The game marked the Jackets' 14th-straight bowl appearance, which was the fourth longest active streak in FBS. However, they came into the game with a five-game bowl losing streak. Georgia Tech led the country with 327 rushing yards per game. The previous season the Yellow Jackets won the ACC and played in the Orange Bowl where they were defeated by Iowa 24–14. This was the first time that Georgia Tech played in the Independence Bowl. The Yellow Jackets had 414.5 yards per game in total offense during the season.