Michigan State Wins Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl to Finish Season 11-2
ATLANTA – No. 10 Michigan State emerged with a 31-21 win over No. 12 Pittsburgh in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Thursday night.
Pittsburgh was down to it’s third string quarterback but still held a 14-10 lead at half as Davis Beville found wide receiver Jared Wayne for a touchdown near the end of the second quarter.
Pittsburgh extended the lead to 21-10 in the third quarter after Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne fumbled and Pittsbugh’s Cam Bright scooped up the loose ball, taking it 28 yards for the touchdown.
But it was all Michigan State after that, especially in the fourth quarter. The Spartans cut the lead to 21-16 with just over eight minutes to go when Thorne threw a touchdown pass to running back Connor Heyward.
With 2:51 to go, the Spartans took the lead as wide receiver Jayden Reed made an impressive catch over the defender for the touchdown. It was Reed’s second receiving touchdown of the game and Thorne’s third passing touchdown.
Pittsburgh drove down the field and put itself in field goal range with under a minute to go trailing 24-21. But Michigan State linebacker Cal Haladay saved the day for the Spartans, coming up with a 78-yard interception return touchdown with 22 seconds to go.
Thorne finished 29-for-50 for 354 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Reed had six catches for 80 yards and the two touchdowns.
MSU running back Kenneth Walker III and Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett opted out of the game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. Pickett finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting this season and Walker III finished fifth.
With the win, Michigan State finishes the season 11-2. It’s a vast improvement from the 2-5 record the Spartans posted in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the first season under head coach Mel Tucker.