The game was telecasted at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN. It featured the WKU Hilltoppers from the Sun Belt Conference against the Central Michigan Chippewas from the Mid-American Conference and was the final game of the 2012 NCAA Division I FBS football season for both teams. The Hilltoppers accepted their invitation after finishing 7–5 during their regular season, while the Chippewas accepted theirs after finishing 6–6. Central Michigan won the game by a score of 24-21 over Western Kentucky.
This was the first meeting between these two teams.
See also: 2012 Central Michigan Chippewas football team
The Chippewas finished in fourth place in the MAC's West Division, also finishing with a 4–4 conference record. After claiming a 6–6 mark in the regular season, the Chippewas accepted an invite to the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
The Hilltoppers finished in fifth place in the Sun Belt Conference with a 4–4 record. After claiming a 7–5 mark in the regular season, the Hilltoppers accepted an invite to the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
This was the first bowl game in school history for the Hilltoppers, being one of two teams making their bowl debut this season (along with fellow Sun Belt member the Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks).
On December 7, Hilltoppers head coach Willie Taggart accepted the vacant head coaching position at South Florida. Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was named as interim head coach for the bowl game. Although WKU hired Bobby Petrino as Taggart's permanent replacement three days later, it announced that Guidry would still coach in Detroit.
This was Guidry's second stint as an interim head coach at an FBS program. He had previously been interim coach at Miami (OH) in the 2010–11 bowl season, coaching the RedHawks to a win in the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl. His coaching stint at Miami was most noted for his locker-room speech to the RedHawks just before the bowl, a 90-second reflection on the history of the program that went viral. The win made the 2010 RedHawks the first team in FBS history to follow a 10-loss season with a 10-win season.