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VIDEO: Michigan State’s Mel Tucker discusses Peach Bowl matchup with Pittsburgh

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker talks to his team at practice in Atlanta ahead of the Peach Bowl.
Courtesy of Michigan State athletic communications

The No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (10-2) and No. 12 Pittsburgh Panthers (11-2) are getting ready to meet in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 30.

Ahead of the New Year’s Six bowl matchup, Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker spoke to the media on Sunday, following the Spartans’ practice at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium.

“We’re happy to be here in Atlanta,” Tucker said. “The Peach Bowl is a great bowl. We had a smooth trip down. Everything’s been great so far. The weather’s great. We’ve had a couple great practices over at Tech. And they’ve really rolled out the carpet for us. It’s a first-class bowl game. Our players are very excited to be here. And it’s going to be a great week of preparation for us.”

Tucker shed some light on who may be available and who likely will not be available for the Peach Bowl on Michigan State’s side. Tucker said some guys “decided not to play” and other guys are dealing with injuries.

“Michael Dowell is in the portal, he’s not planning to play in the game,” Tucker said. “And then we have a couple other guys that are doubtful. I would say (Quavaris) Crouch is doubtful, (Tyler) Hunt is doubtful, (Jarrett) Horst is questionable. And I think everyone else is trying to get to the game, trying to play.”

While Tucker mentioned Dowell is in the transfer portal and has elected not to play, he doesn’t have any issues with other guys who have entered the portal, but are still with the team in Atlanta, playing for Michigan State on Thursday.

“Yeah, those are individual decisions that players are making, and I’m supporting them on the decisions that they do make,” Tucker said. “I just told the guys at the very beginning, at the onset, ‘If you’re in, you’re in 100 percent. And if you’re not in, let’s communicate that, and then we’ll support you.’ And that’s the way we’re handling everything.”

While Tucker is in his second year with Michigan State, and third year overall as a college football head coach, this is his first time being a head coach in a bowl game. Tucker says he draws on his experiences as an assistant coach with other programs to help prepare for Thursday’s prestigious Peach Bowl, and credits his coaching staff and support staff for putting together a great plan for the team.

“This is my first go-around as a head coach in a bowl game,” Tucker said. “But, I just draw on the experiences I’ve had in the past with bowl trips and there have been quite a few national championship games and playoff games. And I was here at the Peach Bowl in 2000 with Coach (Nick) Saban and LSU. Again, it’s not a one-man show. We have a great staff, great support staff. Great operations folks. Everything’s very organized, efficient. We all know what we need to do. And really we’re just relocated and we’re doing what we do and keep the main thing the main thing. We have a process and we’re following a process down here in the A (Atlanta).”

Tucker also spoke about a variety of other topics, including Pittsburgh’s balance as a team and challenges the Panthers pose, as well the importance of recruiting the talented state of Georgia. His full press conference can be viewed below, as well as practice footage and other activities the team has been participating in since arriving in Atlanta.

Coach Tucker’s Full Remarks

Boxing Day Team Practice

Panda Pick ‘Em

MSU Football Team Arrival

Basketball Team Challenge

Competition No. 1 Basketball Challenge

Five members of each team will participate in a Basketball Challenge in their respective team hotel. Each player will receive their own 45 second round to shoot from various locations around the hoop, with each place being worth a different point total. Highest cumulative team score will determine the overall team winner for this event.

Result: Michigan State defeats Pittsburgh 134-94

Andretti Kart Challenge