3 Big Ten football teams with the most to prove this spring

Utah v USC
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3. Michigan State Spartans

I almost put Michigan in this spot because of all the changes it experienced this offseason from transfers to JJ McCarthy declaring for the NFL draft to Jim Harbaugh leaving for the Chargers, but what does a reigning national title team really have to prove to anyone?

On the other hand, Michigan State feels like a sleeping giant in the Big Ten.

For a decade-plus under Mark Dantonio, the Spartans competed for Big Ten titles essentially every year. They made a College Football Playoff and won 10-plus games regularly. That era ended and he was replaced by Mel Tucker who won 11 games in 2021 before a five-win season in 2022 and getting fired in 2023 for inappropriate behavior with a university vendor. Even he showed that you can have success in East Lansing with some effort.

Jonathan Smith comes in as one of many college football experts' best hire of the offseason and there's an overwhelming sense that he's going to turn the Spartans back around much like he did with Oregon State. Unlike the Beavers, though, this turnaround shouldn't take nearly as long.

Smith has revamped the roster and he retained some key players on both sides of the ball while making solid hires to his staff.

Michigan State has a lot to prove because that 9-15 record over the past two seasons is glaring. Smith needs to prove that he can win at Michigan State and wake this sleeping giant up. Will this team have the look of a 8-9-win team this spring or are we looking at another bowl-less squad?

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