As comeback years go, 2017 was one of the best in Michigan State history.
Michigan State had won 11 or more games in five of the past six seasons--including a spot in the 2015 College Football Playoff-- when the Spartans had a monumental collapse, going 3-9 with a horrific 1-8 record in the Big Ten in 2016. It was easily Sparty's worst season since Dantonio became head coach 2007.
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While some wondered if the game had passed him by, Dantonio stuck to his guns, calling the 2016 season an anomaly. His team proved him right by going 10-3 and 7-2 in the Big Ten in 2017. Two of the losses were blowouts to Ohio State (48-3) and Notre Dame (38-18). The other came in overtime at Northwestern (39-31).
A total of 19 starters (10 offense, 9 defense) return from that team, including the starting quarterback (Brian Lewerke) and the leading rushing in each of the past three seasons (L.J. Scott). Nine starters return from a defense that was No. 7 nationally in total defense and No. 2 against the run.
Keep your eye on Scott, who had a sub-par season in 2017 with only 898 yards, and decided to come back for his senior season.
This is not a team to sleep on, even though Sparty will probably be picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten East behind Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. Michigan State gets two of those three teams (Ohio State, Michigan) at home in Spartan Stadium.
In short, very few people outside of East Lansing believe Sparty has what it takes win the rugged Big Ten East. That's when Michigan State is most dangerous.