It’s been a contrasting couple of seasons for Michigan State to say the least. The Spartans followed up an uber-successful 2015 season with a 2016 campaign that didn’t see much success at all. After everything that went wrong last year, there isn’t anywhere to go but up in 2017, but the question is how much can Michigan State realistically improve this season?
The team has some promising young talent and a few solid returning players, but quite a few unknowns at this point. The Spartans are projected to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten this year after going 1-8 against conference foes last season. Despite last year’s issues, they have a decent chance at making a bowl game in 2017.
Much of this year’s success will hinge upon the development of a rather young squad that includes a lot of underclassmen at some key positions. What’s that saying in business? Under-promise and over-deliver? That’s what Michigan State should aim to do this season.
2016 Record: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS, 5-7 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 6
National Championship Odds: +50000
Odds To Win Big Ten: +6000
The 2015 football season was one of the most successful in Michigan State history as the Spartans went 12-2 and made it all the way to the College Football Playoff Semifinals. It would have been difficult to replicate that kind of success either way, but last season was about as dramatic of a drop-off as they come.
The Spartans went a dismal 3-9 in 2016, were demolished by their Big Ten opponents and failed to make a bowl game for the first time since Mark Dantonio took over the program in 2007. After starting the season 2-0 against Furman and No. 18 Notre Dame, Michigan State dropped the next seven games in a row and went 1-9 total the rest of the way.
The Spartans finished second to last in the Big Ten in 2016 after winning the conference championship twice in the previous three seasons. Only Rutgers, which went winless in the Big Ten last year and is the only conference opponent Michigan State defeated in 2016, did worse.
Michigan State might be as eager for its home opener on September 2nd as any team in the nation. The Spartans will be looking to put last season’s disastrous showing behind them and also to distance themselves from the off-the-field legal issues that led to the dismal of three four-star prospects who were accused of sexual assault.
There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the Spartans, but there is definitely reason for optimism when looking forward to the 2017 season. Sophomore Brian Lewerke is the frontrunner for the starting quarterback spot and the dual-threat youngster is getting high praise from Dantonio this offseason, who even compared him to former Michigan State star and current NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins. Lewerke has the luxury of an experienced offensive line around him which will be key since the Spartans lose almost all of their top receivers from last year. The running game will be led by junior LJ Scott, who has already rushed for 1,693 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as a Spartan.
The defense, which has been a large part of the Spartans success under Dantonio, really struggled last season and still has a lot of holes to fill heading into this year. The line and the secondary are both questionable with the graduation of much of last year’s talent and the dismal of some promising newcomers. A lot of Michigan State’s success depends upon whether or not the team is able to find viable replacements for those key positions in 2017.
Saturday, September 2: Michigan State vs. Bowling Green
Saturday, September 9: Michigan State vs. Western Michigan
Saturday, September 23: Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
Saturday, September 30: Michigan State vs. Iowa
Saturday, October 7: Michigan State at Michigan
Saturday, October 14: Michigan State at Minnesota
Saturday, October 21: Michigan State vs. Indiana
Saturday, October 28: Michigan State at Northwestern
Saturday, November 4: Michigan State vs. Penn State
Saturday, November 11: Michigan State at Ohio State
Saturday, November 18: Michigan State vs. Maryland
Saturday, November 25: Michigan State at Rutgers
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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