The Gators finished the season third in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division, while the Buckeyes finished fourth in the Big Ten Leaders Division. The two teams have played once before, in the 2007 Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. In that game, No. 2 Florida defeated No. 1 Ohio State 41-14 to claim the 2006 national title.
Leading up to the game, many called this year's Gator Bowl the Urban Bowl (or the Traitor Bowl by Gator's fans) since Urban Meyer had been hired as the new Ohio State Head Coach, less than a year after leaving Florida. Luke Fickell served as the interim head coach for Ohio State, while Brian White served as the Interim Offensive Coordinator for Florida and called the plays, since Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis had left to take the head coaching job at Kansas.
Florida and Ohio State tied at 7 to start the game, but dominant special teams play that included a kickoff returned for a touchdown and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown led the Gators (7–6) to a 24–17 victory over the struggling Buckeyes (6–7). It is the first time since 1988 that Ohio State has had a non-winning record, and the first time since 1897 that Ohio State had a losing season. It was Florida's 32nd consecutive winning season dating back to 1979. The Buckeyes will not be eligible for a 2012 bowl game or the Big Ten title. The Gators will return in 2012 with a new Offensive Coordinator, Brian Pease, and a new starting quarterback.