Michigan State Football takes on Pitt at Peach Bowl: 3 quick catches

1. The Peach Bowl offers great stories, an average destination and a brutal showdown for MSU

If Michigan State hadn’t given Mel Tucker a big contract extension, who knows, maybe Pat Narduzzi would coach the Spartans to the Peach Bowl this season. It’s still a pretty good scenario – MSU against ACC champion Pittsburgh and the former Spartans beloved defensive coordinator in the Peach Bowl, a 7 p.m. kick-off on December 30 in Atlanta.

MSU (10-2) finished No.10 in the final college football qualifying standings, announced on Sunday afternoon. Pitt (11-2), who beat Wake Forest in the ACC title game on Saturday night, is No. 12. There are several good scenarios with this game, starting with Narduzzi as a coach against the Spartans. Narduzzi was the architect and spirit behind MSU’s best defenses of the Mark Dantonio era. He left to be Pitt’s head coach after the 2014 season, so he wasn’t there for the schedule to slip into mediocrity which I think adds to the memory he remembers at East Lansing. . Harlon Barnett, current MSU secondary coach and Narduzzi’s successor as defensive coordinator (with Mike Tressell), will be on the opposing sideline. That’s great.

This game also has tremendous star power – two Heisman Trophy contenders named Ken, in MSU’s Kenneth Walker and Pitt QB Kenny Pickett, as well as dazzling receivers. How MSU slows down Pickett and wide receiver Jordan Addison will be among the most significant storylines. Ditto for whether Walker and Co. can throw the ball against the Panthers’ CCA advanced defense. The game for MSU, from a football point of view, is not great. The location either. But it’s still the first high-profile bowl game the Spartans have seen in six years. It’s a big deal.

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2. Pitt First Look – Narduzzi’s squad is a tough game for MSU

Pittsburgh as an opponent doesn’t quite have the same cachet as Notre Dame – although Narduzzi’s script is good – but that Pitt side will be a chore in MSU’s defense. The Panthers have had the ACC’s best offense this season with over 43 points per game and an average of 350 passing yards per exit behind the arm of Heisman Trophy contender Kenny Pickett. Pickett could be a problem for MSU’s pass defense.

Pitt’s senior QB threw for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this year. His top receiver, Jordan Addison, has 93 catches for 1,479 yards and 17 touchdowns. Each aforementioned statistic of Pickett and Addison would be a single-season MSU record. Defensively, Pitt’s strength is against the run, where the Panthers were the best in the ACC, allowing just 91.2 yards per game. However, they will give up some things in the passing game. I think the big question for MSU is if it can avoid being shredded by Pickett and Co., more than if the Spartans can make hay against Narduzzi’s defense.

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The Peach Bowl has been one of six New Years bowl games since they started New Years Six in 2014.

3. Peach Bowl was second best of MSU’s two options

Once Michigan and Cincinnati won on Saturday, the Spartans were practically locked in a six-bowl New Years Eve game. The only real question was whether they would play at the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 in Glendale, Ariz., Or the Prime-time Peach Bowl December 30 in Atlanta. The Fiesta Bowl is a better destination for a fan base that hasn’t had the chance to make it to a bowl game with juice in a while. Arizona on vacation sounds good. Plus, while the Peach Bowl is just as old as the Fiesta Bowl, in modern times the Fiesta Bowl packs more punch. It was part of the old BCS system and hosted epic and memorable National Championship and bowl games, like Boise State’s win over Oklahoma in 2007. It’s a game with seriousness.

The Peach Bowl, which has been around since 1968, has been one of six New Years Eve games since they started in 2014. It is no slouch. And Atlanta isn’t a bad place – and it’s a fertile recruiting ground for Mel Tucker and Co. It’s just not the same vacation spot as Arizona or Florida. The only upside is that MSU and Pitt will have the stage to themselves on the night of December 30 – a 7 p.m. kickoff on ESPN. The Fiesta Bowl, on the other hand, faces a number of other enticing New Years Eve games. This Peach Bowl is still a heckuva cap for an incredible season and a massive showcase opportunity.

Contact Graham Couch at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.

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