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Pittsburgh vs Michigan State Peach Bowl Picks & Betting Predictions

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 6 mins

Pittsburgh vs Michigan State Peach Bowl Picks & Betting Predictions

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The College Football Playoff semifinals are rapidly approaching, but we’ve got some other New Year’s Six business to take care of first – beginning with Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State in the Peach Bowl at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi just led Pitt to the first ACC title in school history and is preparing to face a Spartans program where he cut his teeth as defensive coordinator under then-coach Mark Dantonio. Michigan State coach Mel Tucker demolished expectations in his second season in East Lansing, as the Spartans finished 10-2 with a win over rival Michigan.

There are still plenty of question marks for this matchup – but star players will be missing on both sides with Kenny Pickett and Kenneth Walker III opting out.

Let’s take a deeper look into this matchup and what it means from a college football betting perspective.

All college football odds are current as of publication. Betting sites may indicate odds changes closer to kickoff.

Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Key Matchups

Pittsburgh QB vs. Michigan State DBs: Panthers quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett will not suit up for this one. Pitt may have to turn to backup Nick Patti. Whichever signal-caller does see the field will be licking his chops against this Spartans secondary, which struggled from start to finish. We expect the Panthers to test these defensive backs early and often and continue to chuck it around the field until the Spartans show some improvement in coverage.

Michigan State RBs vs. Pittsburgh Front Seven: Walker was the best tailback in the country this season and would figure to be Michigan State’s best chance at controlling the tempo on offense. But he's out. This is still a largely balanced group without Walker, but it all starts up front behind an offensive line that’s been good but not great.


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RELATED: Ultimate Betting Guide To College Football Bowl Games

4 Key Stats For Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State

337.7: Passing yards allowed per game by the Spartans, by far the most in the country.

350.2: Passing yards per game for the Panthers, sixth-best in the nation.

43: Points per game for Pittsburgh, third-best behind Ohio State and Western Kentucky.

6: Bowl wins for Michigan State in eight postseason games since 2011.

Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Moneyline

Pittsburgh was originally the moneyline favorite when odds were posted after the matchup was announced, with the Spartans available around +135. That flipped when Pickett said he wasn’t sure if he’d play, and Michigan State is now widely considered the favorite at -155.

We jumped on the Spartans when they were still a dog as one of our top college football picks, but we like them to win outright regardless. Michigan State played the far tougher schedule this year and won a lot of close games. That can be viewed as a negative midseason, but we think it’s a great sign in bowl games with so many additional moving pieces.

The Panthers only played to their potential a few times this season and suffered brutal losses to Western Michigan and Miami. There’s a lot of Michigan State alum in the Atlanta area and we expect to see a lot of green and white in the crowd. We also expect a Spartans victory.


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Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Point Spread

The Spartans were around a three-point underdog on the opening lines and recently became the favorites at top sportsbooks in the US. The line is now Michigan State -3.5 and we first saw it start to shift when Pickett raised the possibility of sitting out.

Pickett would likely shred this secondary and create serious problems for the Spartans, but the backup doesn’t have much game experience. With Pickett out and Walker out too, we’re on Michigan State to cover the spread. You can get Michigan State -2.5 (-110) at BetMGM. ➜

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Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Total

The over/under opened around 62.5 and has been bet down to 56, likely in part due to the Pickett news. We’re not complaining about it and think Over is still the play.

These are two of the most capable offenses in the country, averaging more than 430 yards on offense with serious playmakers across the board. Both teams have also been inconsistent on defense and have weaknesses to exploit.

There are a lot of good skill position guys here, including Pitt wideout and Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison and Michigan State’s Jayden Reed. These offenses have thrived playing the majority of their games outdoors, in chilly conditions, on natural grass. We can’t wait to see what they’ll do with a speedier surface under the dome. Over is the play on the top sports betting apps.


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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.
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