Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Michigan State Spartans Pick – Peach Bowl December 30, 2021

The Pittsburgh Panthers and Michigan State Spartans are scheduled to meet in the 2021 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Thursday night. This is the first of the New Year’s Six slate in college bowl season.

Every bowl game, including the College Football Playoff, is no guarantee to be played. It was so nice handicapping games during the regular season without the threat of Covid taking players out of games.

At the last minute in the Liberty Bowl, Mississippi State had around ten players on their defense drop out leading up to kick-off. They were thin, especially in the secondary against Texas Tech.

The Holiday Bowl was called off after the UCLA Bruins didn’t have enough players to field a roster. That wasn’t because of Covid.

Not only do you have to handicap Covid drop-outs, but transfers and NFL opt-outs as well. UCLA also had a slew of injuries to contend with as well.

It’s worse than any other bowl season I’ve experienced. Fortunately, Pittsburgh and Michigan State have avoided Covid, at least from what is currently reported.

The opt-out bug landed in the Pitt locker room, though. Their starting quarterback, Kenny Pickett, is preparing for the NFL and hopes to be the first signal-caller off the board in Las Vegas.

Pickett’s absence leaves a big hole in the Panthers going into the Peach Bowl. They will turn to Nick Patti at quarterback with a spot opening up with Pickett’s departure.

The Panthers had a season to remember with Pickett. They went 10-2, including a conference championship in the ACC. Clemson was out of the picture, allowing Pitt and Wake Forest to meet in the ACC Championship.

Michigan State didn’t win the Big Ten, but it was a decent campaign under second-year head coach Mel Tucker. The Spartans finished 10-2, including a win over the Michigan Wolverines, 37-33.

They had a major letdown the following week at Purdue to remove them from the College Football Playoff, and then the Ohio State Buckeyes made for certain with a 56-7 win against the Buckeyes two games back.

Head below for our free Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Peach Bowl pick on December 30, 2021.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Michigan State Spartans Peach Bowl Betting Odds and Team Statistics:

The following odds are courtesy of BetUS:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Pittsburgh Panthers +2.5 (-105) +120 Over 56 (-110)
Michigan State Spartans -2.5 (-115) -140 Under 56 (-110)
Team Data Pittsburgh Panthers Michigan State Spartans
Overall Record 11-2 10-2
ATS Record 10-3-0 8-2-2
Points Per Game 43.0 31.9
Points Against Per Game 23.1 25.7
Passing Yards Per Game 350.2 245.3
Rushing Yards Per Game 154.3 186.6

Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Prediction:

Nick Patti is in his third season at Pitt and has acted as the backup quarterback every year. He passed for 140 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Patti had one rush attempt, which went for a 9-yard touchdown.

Patti has passed for 458 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception on 64.5% completions in his three years. He’s a little of an unknown commodity for Michigan State to prepare for, but they have to be happy with a future NFL quarterback taking this game off.

Fred Biletnikoff winner, Jordan Addison, is only a sophomore and can’t declare for the draft in 2022. The Spartans must put an extra body on Addison or he could have a day. He has 1,479 yards and 17 touchdowns on 15.9 yards per reception.

Neutralize Addison, and Michigan State should be in good shape. Michigan State had a tough season and should be battle-tested versus a backup quarterback with little experience. The Spartans have struggled against the pass, though Pickett isn’t around to dice them up.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Michigan State Spartans Betting Trends:


  • 2-5 ATS in thier previous seven games as an underdog
  • 2-5 ATS in their previous seven games at a neutral field
  • 2-6-1 ATS in their previous nine games versus the Big Ten
  • 1-4 ATS in their previous five bowl games
  • 8-2 ATS in their previous ten games

Michigan State

  • 6-1 ATS in their previous seven bowl games
  • 8-2-2 ATS in their previous 12 games
  • 8-2-1 ATS in their previous 11 games at a neutral site
  • 3-0-1 ATS in their previous four games versus a non-conference team
  • 4-1-2 ATS in their previous seven games as a betting favorite

Michigan State is aggressive against the run, with 117.8 rushing yards allowed per game. They rank 16th in the FBS versus the run. It helped the Spartans hold teams to an average of 25.7 points per game.

Keep in mind that Michigan State played in a Big Ten conference with several teams that like to run the ball. They stood up pretty tall against them, though.

Pitt may need a running game to help their inexperienced quarterback, but the Spartans should stand up and stop the Panthers’ backfield.

Patti will find holes in the Michigan State secondary. However, he probably doesn’t take advantage enough times to do serious damage in this one.

Payton Thorne heads to the Peach Bowl, looking to build on a productive campaign at East Lansing. He’s passed for 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on 60.8% completions, along with some mobility in the pocket.

Thorne has scored 4 times on the ground to go with 177 yards rushing. He was the most underrated quarterback in the Big Ten and should be in for a big 2022.

Expect Mel Tucker to have his guys ready to play in the Peach Bowl. He has been a good motivator this season, and with a new contract in hand, Tucker gets the Spartans up for this one.


Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Pick
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.

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