The Peach Bowl features one of the biggest mismatches of bowl season.
The Michigan State Spartans' passing defense could be torched by Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Panthers offense.
Pickett threw for the fifth-most passing yards and third-most touchdowns in the FBS in the regular season. He could achieve a similar level of success against Michigan State as the Ohio State Buckeyes did November 20.
As of Monday morning, Pickett has not revealed any intention to skip the Peach Bowl to focus on the 2022 NFL draft, which is why Pitt opened as the early favorite to win in Atlanta. Michigan State could have its own offensive question marks if running back Kenneth Walker III elects to miss the game in favor of preparing for the draft.
Until that happens, we can only focus on what a battle between the Pickett-led Panthers and Walker-led Spartans would look like inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Peach Bowl Information
Date: Thursday, December 30
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN.com or ESPN app
Peach Bowl Odds
Spread: Pittsburgh -4
Moneyline: Pittsburgh -180 (bet $180 to win $100); Michigan State +155 (bet $100 to win $155)
Pickett's status is worth watching over the next few weeks.
The senior quarterback threw for 4,319 passing yards and 42 touchdowns, helping him boost his NFL draft stock.
In recent years, some of the top NFL draft prospects skipped the bowl games to save themselves for the pre-draft process. Pickett's situation could be different since Pittsburgh is playing in its first New Year's Six bowl in the College Football Playoff era.
Pickett led Pittsburgh to an 11-2 season and an ACC Championship Game victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to clinch its spot in the Peach Bowl.
If he plays, Pickett could have one more high output in a Pittsburgh uniform against one of the worst passing defenses in the country. Michigan State gives up 337.7 passing yards per game, and all of its weaknesses were put on film by Ohio State in its 56-7 victory inside Ohio Stadium.
C.J. Stroud threw for 432 yards and six touchdowns against the Spartans. He did not have to play much of the second half because of his team's 49-point first-half onslaught.
A mismatch will not be in play for Michigan State's top offensive player. Walker may go up against a Pittsburgh rushing defense that allows 91.2 yards per contest. He ran for more than 100 yards in four of his past five games, but he only had six carries for 25 yards in the loss to Ohio State. If Pitt contains Walker in a similar fashion, the Panthers would be in great shape to come out on top.
Walker's status may also be in question because of the NFL draft. Like Pickett, he drastically improved his draft stock with a tremendous season in which he was in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
The Peach Bowl matchup would be significantly altered if Pickett or Walker, both the best players on their respective teams, decided to focus on their futures instead of playing one more collegiate game.
Those two major unknowns make the Peach Bowl a tough game to wager on right away. Pittsburgh is favored now, but the spread could shift to Michigan State if Pickett does not stay around. If you plan to bet on the Peach Bowl, you should wait a few weeks for the lines to adjust to the proper on-field matchup.
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