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CBS: Spartan football will have the Big Ten’s toughest schedule in 2017

Fresh off a 3-9 season, MSU faces another challenging slate

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

If you were hoping the football gods would let the Spartans off easy after the disastrous 3-9 campaign a year ago, you were sadly mistaken — at least according to CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli.

Per Fornelli, MSU is set to face the toughest slate of any Big Ten team in the upcoming season.

This one really shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Not only does Michigan State play both Western Michigan and Notre Dame in its nonconference schedule, but it also plays in the Big Ten East where it must contend with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Of those three opponents, only Penn State will be coming to East Lansing. Also, while Michigan State avoids both Wisconsin and Nebraska out of the West, it still must go on the road for Minnesota and Northwestern while getting Iowa at home.

Michigan State is far from the only flawed team on the schedule — WMU lost wunderkind PJ Fleck and fifth overall pick Corey Daivs, ND, Iowa and Indiana all have QB’s to replace and Michigan said goodbye to what seems like half the roster — but road games in Ann Arbor and Columbus and a home date against Saquon Barkley and reigning champ Penn State look downright treacherous.

MSU should improve — how could they not? — but getting back to a bowl game will be challenging. If MSU were to somehow get to 9 wins (a stretch) this would be one of Dantonio’s best coaching jobs to date.