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The Pittsburgh Panthers (11-2 SU, 10-3 ATS) finished the regular season on a 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS run led by quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Panthers will be without Pickett in the Peach Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans (10-2, 8-3-1) as he has opted to skip the game to prepare for the NFL draft.

Peach Bowl: Pittsburgh vs Michigan State
  • Date/Time: January 1, 7 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Pittsburgh -4.5 | O/U 63 (Line History)
  • Pittsburgh vs Michigan State Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The Panthers opened as 4.5-point favorites in this matchup, but Pickett’s departure has swung the line a full seven points over to Michigan State -2.5. The total has also plummetted to 57 points after originally opening at 63 points. Pittsburgh is 1-7 SU in its last eight games against Big Ten opponents.

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Pittsburgh News & Notes

Pittsburgh rolled to a 45-21 win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to win the ACC championship and finish the regular season on a 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS run. Kenny Pickett had 253 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing major in the win. The senior quarterback recorded 4,319 passing yards and 42 passing touchdowns this season with only seven interceptions.

A three-point loss to Western Michigan and a four-point loss to Miami are all that prevented the Panthers from compiling a 13-0 SU record. Pickett led the Panthers to their first bowl win since 2013 in 2019 and their first ACC championship in program history this season, but he departs from the program ahead of the Peach Bowl, leaving the starting quarterback role in the hands of backup Nick Patti.

Michigan State News & Notes

The Panthers won’t be the only team playing in the Peach Bowl without their most talented player on offense. Hours before Pickett announced that he wouldn’t be playing in this game, Michigan State star running back Kenneth Walker III did the same. Walker finished his season ranked second in the nation in rushing yards with 1,636 and scored 19 touchdowns. The junior back rushed for 197 yards and five touchdowns in Michigan State’s 37-33 upset win over Michigan back in October.

The Spartans wrapped up their regular season with a 2-2 SU and ATS record over their last four games after going 8-0 SU and 6-1-1 ATS during their first eight games. Walker had 138 rushing yards on 30 carries in Michigan State’s 30-27 upset win over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the team’s final game.

How Pittsburgh Will Cover

Pittsburgh ranks sixth in the nation in rushing defense and will face a Michigan State rushing attack that just lost one of the country’s best running backs. If Nick Patti plays well and the Panthers don’t allow the Spartans to establish their running game, Pittsburgh could pull off the upset even without Pickett.

How Michigan State Will Cover

Quarterback Payton Thorne has had an up-and-down season, and his play in this one will likely determine Michigan State’s fate. Both of these defenses are great against the rush and bad against the pass, so Thorne winning the quarterback battle against an inexperienced backup should lead to a win and cover.

Computer Pick: Pittsburgh +2.5

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Shark Bites
  • Pitt is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games.
  • MSU is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 December games.
  • The OVER is 14-6 in Pitt’s last 20 games.