It’s been a brutal past year for Michigan State football from going 3-9 last season to the ongoing sexual assault investigations and multiple players getting kicked off the team. But Mark Dantonio’s squad has to move forward at some point and that was his goal for having a spring Game after holding practices behind closed doors.
While the Spartans can move forward, that doesn’t mean the offense will figure things out as their quarterback situation is still a mess. Tyler O’Connor is gone leaving Brian Lewerke the starter out of the gates with Damion Terry and injured Messiah deWeaver in his wake. Lewerke saw limited action last year, but was more potent with his legs than anything (21 carries, 149 yards). And the ground Game is where this offense will turn as long as the line can recover from losing three starters. The backfield retains its top guys with LJ SCott (994 yards, 6 TDs) recovering from offseason surgery flanked by Gerald Holmes and Madre London. Donnie Corley (453 yards) will lead the receiving corps, but he’s about the only receiver with experience.
There are similar questions on the defensive side after the group completely flailed in 2016 giving up close to 28 points per Game and having no real identity as seen in the season-finale blowout against Penn State. MSU loses some pieces on the line, but it should still be a fairly deep group flanked by quality at linebacker in Chris Frey and Andrew Dowell with Joe Bachie in the middle. The secondary loses its most experienced guys, but maybe that’s a good thing after how last year turned out. Corner Vayante Copeland and safety Khari Willis will hope to make a name for themselves, but it’s a toss-up with how they’ll perform.
The Schedule isn’t easy by any means, but neither was last season. The best thing is that Michigan State gets to host all of its non-Conference Games, but without improvement, none of them will come easy. The Spartans could leave that Notre Dame Game undefeated or with two losses. It doesn’t get easier in Big Ten play with road Games at Michigan ad Ohio State standing out with home Games against Iowa and Penn State being equally difficult.
If Lewerke plays safe and the offense doesn’t turn the ball over, this team could return a little bit to the levels seen in 2015, but that’s also if the defense plays more consistently. The Spartans still have surprisingly decent odds (+1700 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference, but there’s close to no reason to bet that. Ideally, seven or eight wins would be a good season for Michigan State, but obviously Dantonio wants better than that.
2017 Michigan State Spartans Football Schedule
Sept. 2 vs. Bowling Green
Sept. 9 vs. Western Michigan
Sept. 23 vs. Notre Dame
Sept. 30 vs. Iowa
Oct. 7 at Michigan
Oct. 14 at Minnesota
Oct. 21 vs. Indiana
Oct. 28 at Northwestern
Nov. 4 vs. Penn State
Nov. 11 at Ohio State
Nov. 18 vs. Maryland
Nov. 25 at Rutgers