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Pittsburgh vs Michigan State Odds, Spread and Predictions – 2021 Peach Bowl

John Perrotto

by John Perrotto in College Football

Dec 29, 2021 · 3:09 PM PST

Payton Thorne celebrates
Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne, right, and running back Kenneth Walker III celebrate following a 30-27 win over Penn State in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
  • Michigan State is a 2.5-point favorite over Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl on Thursday
  • Pitt QB Kenny Pickett and Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III have opted out
  • A look at the odds and matchup can be found below with a prediction

The Peach Bowl will be most notable for missing two of the best players in college football when #12 Pittsburgh plays #10 Michigan State at 7:00 p.m. ET Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III have opted out to preserve their health for the NFL Draft. Pickett was third in the Heisman Trophy voting and Walker finished sixth.

Pitt (11-2) carries a five-game winning streak into the game, including a 45-21 victory over Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game. Michigan State (10-2) split its last four regular-season games following an 8-0 start but defeated Penn State 30-27 in its finale.

In a game that will be shown on ESPN, Michigan State is the favorite.

Pittsburgh vs Michigan State Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Pittsburgh +116 +2.5 (-105) Over 56 (-110)
Michigan State -142 -2.5 (-115) Under 56 (-110)

Odds as of December 30th at FanDuel

Pitt opened as a 3.5-point favorite but the line shifted dramatically in Michigan State’s favor once Pickett announced he would not play.

Pittsburgh Outlook

Nick Patti will start at quarterback after seeing limited action in the regular season. He completed 12 of 14 passes for 160 yards.

Patti will have a top-flight target, though, in wide receiver Jordan Addison. Addison won the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the best receiver in college football.

Addison’s 19 receiving touchdowns lead the nation. He has 93 receptions overall for 1,479 yards.

Nevertheless, Patti will be filling big shoes. Pickett threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns while winning the Unitas Award as the nation’s top quarterback. Many analysts project Pickett to be the first QB drafted.

Israel Abinikanda spearheads Pitt’s running game with 635 yards and seven TDs.

Defensive Erick Hallett II was MVP of the ACC title game as he intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown.

Pitt held Wake Forest scoreless on the Demon Deacon’s last 13 drives. The Panthers sacked Sam Hartman five times and limited Wake Forest to 109 yards after the first quarter and 295 overall.

This game will represent a reunion for Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi. He spent eight seasons as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator before his seven-year run with the Panthers.

Michigan State Outlook

With Walker opting out, Michigan State will go with the relatively untested running back duo of Jordan Simmons and Elijah Collins. Simmons has rushed for 255 yards this season and Collins has 87 yards.

Michigan State does have the potential to move the ball through the air as Payton Thorne’s 24 touchdown passes leave him one shy of Kirk Cousins’ school record in 2011.

Thorne also showed his athleticism on this play.

Thorne has 2,886 passing yards. He has been picked off nine times while completing 60.9% of his passes. He also threw two touchdown passes and ran for another in the victory over Penn State.

Michigan State’s top receiver is Jayden Reed. He has 53 catches for 946 yards and eight TDs and had a 20-yard scoring grab on a fourth-down play with 5:10 left to seal the win against the Nittany Lions.

The Spartans pulled off the biggest turnaround in school history after going 2-5 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Second-year coach Mel Tucker was rewarded with a 10-year, $95-million contract.

Pitt vs Michigan State Prediction

Michigan State has dominated the all-time series with a 6-0-1 record. However, the teams last played in 2007 when the Spartans notched a 17-13 road victory.

Pitt is 14-21 all-time in bowl games and Michigan State is 13-16.

Pickett is obviously a huge loss, but the Panthers still have Addison and their defense. That makes them a live underdog against the Walker-less Spartans.

  • The Pick: Pittsburgh moneyline +116
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