The lone ranked matchup among four bowl games Thursday features ACC champion and No. 12 Pittsburgh facing No. 10 Michigan State of the Big Ten, although both schools lost Heisman Trophy candidates to opt-outs. Sparty is favored on the NCAAF odds.
How to Bet Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State NCAA Football Odds & TV Info
- When: Thursday, 7 PM ET
- Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
- TV: ESPN
- Stream: ESPN app
- Radio: Tunein.com
- Opening NCAAF Lines: MSU -2.5 (total 56)
Pitt and Michigan State last met in 2007—a 17-13 Spartans win in East Lansing. The Panthers are winless in seven all-time meetings (0-6-1) with Michigan State. Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi served as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator from 2007-14.
Why Bet on Pittsburgh?
With an 11-2 record, the 2021 Panthers are trying to become just the second team in school history to win 12 games in a season. In 1976, Coach Johnny Majors led Pitt to the national championship with a 12-0 mark. The Panthers captured the ACC Championship with a 45-21 win over Wake Forest. It is the first outright conference title in Pitt football history.
Pitt was No. 12 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, the Panthers’ highest CFP listing ever. Pitt is also No. 12 in the latest USA Today AFCA Coaches Poll and ranked No. 13 by Associated Press. A victory over Michigan State could help Pitt earn its first Top 10 finish in the national polls since 1982.
ACC Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy finalist and QB Kenny Pickett opted out of the game to focus on the NFL Draft. Pickett, who was a fifth-year senior this season, is Pitt’s all-time leader in yards passing, completions, total offensive yards and passing touchdowns. With Pickett out for the Peach Bowl, the Panthers could turn to redshirt junior Nick Patti. to start at quarterback. As Pickett’s backup this season, Patti completed 12 of 14 passes for 140 yards.
Also gone for Pitt is offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who abruptly resigned and took the same position at Nebraska. On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Damarri Mathis has opted out in favor of the NFL Draft. Mathis’ departure is not a surprise. The 22-year-old has been a productive member of Pitt’s secondary since joining the program as a three-star prospect from Florida in 2017. Mathis played in nine games as a true freshman, started twice as a sophomore and broke out in 2019. This year, the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder had six pass breakups and two interceptions.
Winner of the 2021 Biletnikoff Award, Jordan Addison entered the bowl season with a national-best 17 touchdown catches. The last Pitt player to lead the nation in TD catches was Larry Fitzgerald, who had a school-record 22 in 2003.
Pitt has played in 35 prior bowl games in its history, compiling a 14-21 record. Pitt’s last bowl appearance was the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl, a 34-30 victory over Eastern Michigan at Detroit’s Ford Field.
Why Bet on Michigan State?
Michigan State finished the regular season with a 10-2 record, marking the ninth time in program history the Spartans have won double-digit games in a season. Mel Tucker as named Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Spartans star running back Kenneth Walker III, who got some Heisman votes, is skipping the game. Walker, a once-unheralded transfer from Wake Forest, finished the season with 1,636 yards rushing — good for No. 2 nationally — 18 rushing touchdowns and averaged 6.22 yards per carry for a Spartans team that was in the thick of the College Football Playoff race until late November. Jordon Simmons is the top running back behind Walker, but he only had 255 yards on the season. And 121 of those yards came in Week 2 vs. Youngstown State.
Sparty got some good news this week in that receiver Jalen Nailor will play. Nailor has 37 receptions this season for 587 yards and six touchdowns. That production, however, came in just eight games. Actually, it was seven-and-a-half games as he missed the second half of the Michigan game and then the final four of the regular season with a hand injury.
Having Nailor and a fully healthy Jayden Reed both available for quarterback Payton Thorne to target should be key for Michigan State against a Pittsburgh defense that ranks 105th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game at 257.4. Thorne has completed 61 percent of his passes (206-of-339) for 2,886 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Tucker has said linebacker Quavaris Crouch and tight end Tyler Hunt are doubtful for the Peach Bowl while left tackle Jarrett Horst is questionable.
The Spartans are making their 30th all-time bowl appearance (13-16 record), including their third in a New Year’s Six bowl game (Cotton Bowl Classic during 2014 season; CFP Semifinal at Cotton Bowl Classic during 2015 season). This marks MSU’s first-ever appearance in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Michigan State has won six of its last eight bowl games and is playing in a bowl game for the 13th time in the past 15 years.
- Panthers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win.
- Panthers are 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games in December.
- Panthers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 bowl games as an underdog.
- Spartans are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
- Spartans are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Bowl games.
- Spartans are 8-2-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall.
- Michigan State 30, Pittsburgh 27