After a two-win season in 2020, hopes for the 2021 Michigan State football season were not very high. However, a little Tuck magic kicked in. Now the Spartans are 10-2 and headed to their second New Year's Six Bowl. They will take on the ACC Champion Pitt Panthers on Dec. 30th in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

How They Got There

The easy answer on how they got there is by looking at the excellent coaching of Mel Tucker. He certainly deserved to get his contract extension and will hopefully continue to prove it in the coming seasons. 

His biggest success came in the transfer portal, where he was able to snag Heisman hopeful Kenneth Walker III. Walker wasn't the only standout; however, his tremendous season is probably the biggest reason MSU was able to win 10 games. Walker boasted 1,636 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns, including five big ones in a 37-33 win over in-state rival Michigan. 

The success of Jaylen Reed and Payton Thorne cannot be ignored as well. Both had excellent seasons and had the offense firing on all cylinders for the year with few exceptions. There was an equal chance taken on both sides and the relationship worked wonders. Mel Tucker found the perfect way to fit them into this system and developed a well-oiled machine.

How They Stack up Against Pitt 

Seeing the Pitt Panthers may not have been what the Spartans wanted in their bowl game. The Panthers have a very high-volume pass attack. If everyone remembers the Ohio State game, MSU may be in for a long day. Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett has thrown for over 40 touchdowns this season and is more than likely foaming at the mouth of the thought of facing the Spartans 130th ranked pass defense. The secondary is in for a tough challenge.

A Familiar Face

The Spartans will be seeing a familiar face down in Atlanta. Pittsburgh Head Coach Pat Narduzzi served as the Spartans defensive coordinator from 2007-2014. Narduzzi led the Spartans to top total and rush defenses in his last three years there. His defensive prowess has carried over thus far as Pitt comes in with the 6th best rush defense, which will provide a tough challenge for Walker.

On paper, this matchup leans in favor of Pittsburgh. However, the game is played on the field. Michigan State does have enough to keep pace with the Panthers. Bringing the Peach Bowl Trophy home would be a great way to cap off this memorable season. You can catch the game on ESPN at 7 PM on Dec. 30. There are sure to be fireworks in this can't miss match up. 

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