Pittsburgh vs Michigan State Peach Bowl Odds, Picks and Predictions: Thorne in Panthers' Sides

With Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett opting out for Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl, Payton Thorne and the Michigan State Spartans have a clear path to victory over the Panthers. It might not be pretty, and we expect it to hit the Under in our betting picks.

Last Updated: Dec 30, 2021 10:23 AM ET Read Time: 5 min
Payton Thorne Jayden Reed Kenneth Walker Michigan State Spartans college football
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The first of the New Year's Six bowl games on the college football bowl game schedule is the Peach Bowl, which features the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Michigan State Spartans.

With the news that star quarterback and Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett would opt out of the Peach Bowl, Pittsburgh flipped from being a three-point favorite to a near three-point underdog.

That’s a dramatic swing in one of Bowl Season’s biggest events. The Spartans enter off a magical year in which they dramatically outperformed pre-season expectations.

Will the Spartans continue to defy the odds, or will the Panthers prove that the line movement was an overreaction? 

Check out our free college football betting picks and predictions for the 2021 Peach Bowl between the Michigan State Spartans and Pittsburgh Panthers on Thursday, December 30 to find out. 

Pittsburgh vs Michigan State odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The line has seen significant movement since the opt-out news. Pitt opened as 3.5-point favorites but flipped to Michigan State being favored by 2.5 points at the time of this writing. The Under has taken money, dropping the total from 62.5 down to 56.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full college football odds before placing your bets.

Pittsburgh vs Michigan State predictions

Predictions made on 12/22/2021 at 7:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Pittsburgh vs Michigan State game info

Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Date: Thursday, December 30, 2021
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

Pittsburgh vs Michigan State betting preview

Weather

Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.

Key injuries

Pittsburgh: Kenny Pickett QB (Out), Taysir Mack WR (Questionable), A.J. Davis Jr. RB (Out).
Michigan State: Kenneth Walker III RB (Out), Jalen Nailor WR (Questionable), Ricky White WR (Out).
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Under is 4-1 in Pitt’s last 5 games against a team with a winning record. Find more NCAA betting trends for Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State.

Pittsburgh vs Michigan State picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

Michigan State will be playing in its first New Year's Six Bowl in six seasons after drastically outperforming pre-season expectations. Despite having a pre-season win total set at just four across most books, the Spartans went 10-2 and found themselves with a Top-10 ranking for a large portion of the year.

They’ve been one of the most profitable teams against the spread all year, finishing 8-2-2 ATS while consistently defying expectations. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me eight times and maybe it’s time to start believing. The Spartans have also proven that their brand of football travels well, finishing with a perfect 5-0 record on the road. 

Pitt has been another cash cow for bettors, finishing with a pretty 10-3 ATS record. A big part of that success was Heisman finalist quarterback Kenny Pickett, who amassed 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns. While Michigan State will also be without its top player in running back Kenneth Walker, we know by now in 2021 that quarterbacks are more integral to a team’s success, right? 

Not only will Pitt be without Pickett, but Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple abruptly resigned following the season and headed to Nebraska. Narduzzi has been at Pitt since 2015 and has only seen an offense average over 30 points once during that time, so it’s fair to assume the offense’s success in 2021 was not all due to his offensive wizardry. The offense will take a significant step back in this contest. 

Michigan State’s biggest weakness is a porous secondary that Pickett would’ve torched. With a fill-in starter at quarterback and a departed offensive coordinator, we don’t believe Pitt is in a position to take advantage of this weakness. Give us the Spartans.

Prediction: Michigan State -2.5 (-110)

Both offenses will be without their best player, while one will be without its offensive coordinator. That alone is enough to start looking at the Under. Michigan State ranked dead last in defending the pass, but Pitt is not positioned to exploit that weakness sans Pickett and Whipple. The Spartans rush defense ranks 16th nationally and Pitt hasn’t run the ball effectively all year.

When Michigan State has the ball, they like to set everything up offensively through the run. That’s going to be difficult to do against a fearsome Pitt front seven that allowed only 91.8 rushing yards per game — the 6th best mark in the country. Opposing rushers managed only 2.7 yards per rush against the Panthers, and Michigan State will be without its most dangerous weapon in Walker.

Prediction: Under 56 (-110)

We expect Narduzzi to slow the game down without his star quarterback and without Whipple there to run the show. It’s the coach he’s always been at heart, and it's likely we see the team revert right back to their old ways now that Pickett and Whipple are off the scene. 

We like Michigan State to hit just enough big plays in the passing game with Payton Thorne, Jaylen Hall, and Jalen Nailor to find the cover, but expect the game to be a slow, low-scoring affair. Give us the Under in this New Year’s Six Bowl.

Pick: Under 56 (-110)

College football parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed our Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State picks, you could win $26.45 on a $10 bet?

Use our college football parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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