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Michigan State football: 3 reasons I’m optimistic about 2023 season

Yes, I’m drinking some green Kool-Aid.



Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Although there’s plenty of pessimism out there regarding Michigan State football, here’s why I’m optimistic about 2023.

No one — and I mean no one — is projecting Michigan State football to do anything in 2023. Most experts have the Spartans hovering around the 4-6 win mark. Heck, I’ve seen as low as three wins predicted by some rival fans.

Like I said, no one is expecting Michigan State to do anything.

But that’s not the worst thing in the world. Michigan State usually plays its best when no one expects anything. Just look at the 2021 season. The over/under for season wins was set at 4.5 and the Spartans smashed that in just over a month.

This year? Similar vibes. The win total is set at 5.5 and most people are taking the under.

With so much pessimism and negativity surrounding the program ahead of Friday night’s opener against Central Michigan, here’s why I’m (cautiously) optimistic about the 2023 season.

1. The trenches should improve drastically

The best teams in college football win in the trenches. If you win in the trenches, more often than not, you win the game. And I see Michigan State football winning in the trenches quite a bit this year.

Looking at the offensive line, it’s the best and deepest it’s been in years. This is easily the most complete group of the Mel Tucker era. There’s a solid starting group and there’s not a huge drop-off to the backups. That depth has been built up for years and it’s why the offense should see an improvement this year. I’m very excited about the offensive line. And you should be, too.

On the defensive line, I could name about 10 guys who could legitimately start this year. Guys like Tunmise Adeleye, Simeon Barrow, Khris Bogle, Avery Dunn, Jalen Sami, Zion Young, and Bai Jobe intrigue me. All of these guys should have huge years on the defensive line. This is easily the deepest group of the Tucker era and it feels like Diron Reynolds is the right guy to lead them. Last year, the pass rush was an issue, but I’d be shocked if that was the case this season.

Winning in the trenches should lead to success.

2. Lack of expectations

As mentioned in the intro, not having any expectations is usually a good omen for Michigan State football.

The last time the Spartans had no expectations, all they did was go out and win 11 games, including a win over Michigan for the second straight year, and make (and win) a New Year’s Six bowl. Oh, and they had the Doak Walker Award winner. Before that, the last time they had zero expectations outside of the 2020 season was 2017, and, well, the Spartans won 10 games.

The last four times Michigan State began the season unranked (excluding 2020), it went on to win 10-plus games and finish the season ranked in the top 15.

Here’s to hoping that trend continues.

3. Nathan Carter

If you don’t know this by now, I’m firmly on the Nathan Carter bandwagon. Heck, I may even be driving the Nathan Carter hype train at this point. I am all in on the UConn transfer running back.

We’ve heard nothing but good things about him all fall camp long and he seems to be the guy in the backfield heading into the season. I’m expecting him to become Michigan State’s next 1,000-yard rusher.

Am I drinking too much green Kool-Aid? Maybe, but I truly believe Carter is going to be special.

Is he Kenneth Walker III? No, no one is. But he’s going to be impactful on offense and take pressure off whoever the new starting quarterback is. Oh yeah, and I’m excited about a new starter under center. That should make everyone optimistic.

The Carter era begins on Friday and I couldn’t be more excited.

Writer, co-owner of Spartan Shadows. Michigan State and college football expert at FanSided and formerly of The Detroit News. Expert on all things Michigan State. Connor Muldowney has written about Michigan State since graduating from the university with a degree in journalism back in 2013. Ten years of experience as a Michigan State writer/reporter.