This was Middle Tennessee's first bowl appearance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Entering the game, offense leaders for the Blue Raiders were RB Phillip Tanner (149 att., 841 yds. rushing, 11 TDs), QB Dwight Dasher (127 of 222 passes, 1,388 yards, 6 TDs) and WR Malcolm Beyah (27 rec., 364 yds., 2 TDs). Defensively, the team was led by DB Jeremy Kellem (101 tackles, 1.5 tfl, 2 INT), DE Jamari Lattimore (64 tackles, 14.5 tfl, 11.0 sacks) and LB Darin Davis (73 tackles, 8.0 tfl, 3.5 sacks, 3 interceptions).
This was Miami's second appearance in this bowl game; they played in the 2003 edition when it was under the name GMAC Bowl. Miami was one of the most improved program in the country, capped a dramatic turnaround season by winning the 2010 marathon MAC Football Championship. The RedHawks defeated Northern Illinois, 26–21, with a touchdown
with 33 seconds left in regulation. Miami clinched the East Division with a 23–3 win over Temple on November 23.
This was the first meeting between these two teams.
Miami became the first FBS team ever to follow a 10-loss season with a 10-win season; the RedHawks went 1–11 the previous season. However, this was not the biggest turnaround in FBS history as measured by games. The FBS record turnaround by that measure remains the 8 1⁄2-game turnaround by Hawaiʻi from 0–12 in 1999 to 9–4 in 2000. Miami's turnaround from 1–11 to 10–4 amounted to an 8-game turnaround.