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MSU Football Goes Bowling in 247Sports' Way-Too-Early Big Ten Predictions

The Spartans have a tough schedule in 2024, but there's a path for MSU to reach bowl eligibility in Jonathan Smith's first season...

Coming off back-to-back losing seasons, Michigan State football is entering a new era under first-year head coach Jonathan Smith in 2024.

The Spartans have failed to reach bowl eligibility in each of the last two years, with a combined record of 9-15 in 2022 and 2023. Smith is tasked with returning MSU's football program to respectability, and at least one college football reporter believes the Spartans will take a step toward that this fall.

247Sports' Brad Crawford recently released his "Way-Too-Early" record predictions for all 18 Big Ten teams in 2024, and he has Michigan State reaching bowl eligibility with a 6-6 record this fall. Crawford projects the Spartans to finish 3-6 in conference play and in a four-way tie for 11th place in the Big Ten standings. 

After hosting Florida Atlantic to open the season, Michigan State will next welcome its first conference foe to East Lansing — the Maryland Terrapins. Crawford sees that matchup between the Spartans and Terrapins as the difference between six or seven wins for MSU in 2024. Here's are Crawford's full comments regarding the Spartans:


Pre-spring final record projection
: 6-6

Conference finish
: 3-6 (four-way tie for 11th)

: What is the realistic expectation for first-year coach Jonathan Smith? For now, predictions for Michigan State include wins over Boston College, Indiana and Purdue while every setback comes against conference competition — Maryland, Ohio State, Oregon, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois. That early-season trip to College Park could be the difference in rising above outside expectations and just getting there for Smith.

Michigan State's 2024 schedule will be challenging, but perhaps not as daunting of the slate the Spartans faced last season. In Week 3, MSU will host FCS opponent Prairie View A&M before its first road game of the season at Boston College. The Spartans then entered the toughest stretch of their season with four games against Ohio State, Oregon, Iowa and Michigan over the next five weeks.

The difficulty level drops significantly in November, where Michigan State will play host to Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers while taking a road trip to Illinois. None of those matchups are "gimmees" for the Spartans, but MSU will be on equal-or-better footing against all four opponents.

There's legit reason for excitement in East Lansing over Smith's hire. The head coach built a tough and competitive program at his alma mater, Oregon State, and many consider him to be one of the best hires of this past coaching carousel. Smith has built a strong staff at Michigan State, and better days are ahead for the Spartans. With that understood, there's still a lot of work to do in East Lansing, and expectations for Year 1 under Smith should remain moderate.

Here's how Crawford projects the entire Big Ten standings to shake out in 2024:

247Sports' Brad Crawford's Way-Too-Early Big Ten standings prediction: 1-9

247Sports' Brad Crawford's Way-Too-Early Big Ten standings prediction: 1-9

247Sports' Brad Crawford's Way-Too-Early Big Ten standings prediction: 10-18

247Sports' Brad Crawford's Way-Too-Early Big Ten standings prediction: 10-18

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