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Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Preview

This bowl game was suppose to be a big one that I was looking forward to watching. However, with the players opting out that opted out of playing in this game, I am sad now thinking about this game. The matchup is between Pittsburgh (11-2) and Michigan State (10-2). ACC vs Big Ten is always a fun one, but this feels so lackluster with certain players not participating in this game for both sides. With that being said here is my preview for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

 

Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Panthers were a surprise to everybody this season. Nobody expected Pittsburgh to do what they did which was win the ACC. Kenny Pickett who was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy is not playing in this bowl game. Pickett is getting ready for the NFL Draft, but not playing in this game could hurt his stock a little. However, the Panthers are moving on and they are moving on with Nick Patti starting at quarterback for them in this matchup. Pittsburgh has a transfer coming in Kedon Slovis who will look to be the Panthers next starting quarterback in 2022. This is a spot for Patti to put his name in the conversation to be the starter next season.

Good news for Patti is that he will have the Biletnikoff award winner Jordan Addison alongside him in this matchup. Addison has 93 receptions to go along with 1,479 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. He was a big part of this Panthers offense who put up monster numbers this year, however without Pickett at quarterback what will this offense look like?

Defensively, the Panthers give up an average of 91.8 rushing yards per game but they struggle against the pass. This Panthers defense gives up 257.4 passing yards per game. This is the matchup to watch in this game and that is Michigan State’s passing offense vs the Pittsburgh passing defense. If Pittsburgh can’t stop the pass it will be a long night for the Panthers.

 

Michigan State

Michigan State is losing a key piece of their offense in this bowl game. Not having the Doak Walker award winner Kenneth Walker III is a huge loss to the Spartans offense. However, good news for the Spartans is that their star receiver Jalen Nailor is going to be playing in this bowl game and that is huge for them. Before getting hurt and missing the last four games of the regular season, Nailor had 31 receptions to go along with 587 receiving yards and added 6 touchdowns. This news is good for quarterback Payton Thorne, who had great chemistry with Nailor earlier this season. Thorne threw for 2,886 passing yards to go along with 24 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. Thorne and this passing offense will need to come up big for the Spartans in this Peach Bowl matchup.

Defensively, the Spartans are very good against the run as they only allow just over 118.3 rushing yards per game. However, this defense’s Achilles heel is their pass defense. This pass defense gives up 337.7 passing yards per game which is one of the worst in the country. Good news for Michigan State fans is that Kenny Pickett is not playing in this game. If Pickett was playing there would be some serious signs of concern, as Michigan State struggles week after week to stop the pass. Spartans defense can breathe a little better heading into this matchup.

 

Prediction: 

Michigan State is a 2.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 55.5. My lean is the over as even with the inconsistencies of both offenses losing star players, both defenses aren’t the greatest. However, this would be the one game where one of the defenses step up in a big way so I will stay away from the total. My official play is Michigan State -2.5. I love the Spartans offense in this one even without Kenneth Walker III. Look for the Spartans to end the season on a good note.

 

-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)

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