Realistic Expectations for 2010 Michigan State Spartans Football Team

Nick MordowanecCorrespondent IJune 2, 2010

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 05:  Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio watches the action during the game against the Montana State Bobcats on September 5, 2009 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

We are officially in the month of June, which means the college football season is that much closer.

My magnifying glass is on the 2010 edition of the Michigan State Spartans Football team.

It is coach Mark Dantonio’s fourth season at the helm of the green and white, compiling a 22-17 record in his first three years—including three visits to bowl games (albeit all losses).

Dantonio’s best season as the Spartans coach so far was in 2008 when he accumulated a 9-3 record, and went to a New Year’s Day bowl game. It was a season most Michigan State fans did not expect, but it definitely raised the bar for the program.

With All-American linebacker Greg Jones returning for one last hoorah, as well as highly-touted defensive freshmen William Gholston and Max Bullough, the porous defense should be well-improved going into this upcoming season.

With balance on both sides of the ball, this only means more pressure for Dantonio.

With a schedule that includes away games against Michigan, Iowa, Penn State, and Northwestern, the heat is on to produce early and often—something the 2009 Spartans failed to do until almost halfway through the season.

I did forget to mention that the Spartans get the luxury of not having to play Ohio State—again.

It won’t be easy to travel and play these good football programs, but it is the Big Ten: Nothing is ever easy in this conference. So in terms of the Spartans, what is the dividing line between success, and failure?

A bowl game is an absolute must, and more preferably a bowl victory. The program has done a good job reaching some decent bowls, although the team has failed to win one in its last three chances. This years team has the personnel to get over that hump.

And while we’re at it, aiming for a higher bowl game would be a magical season, like, say, a Rose Bowl. Of course this calls for winning the conference, but hey, anything is possible, right? Winning against conference opponents is the key to getting to a big-time bowl, and this team has some talented players.

Even though the season hasn’t even begun, I’m ready to make a prediction of 8-4. I understand the team went 6-6 last season, but it was more of an attitude problem, and less of a personnel issue.

If the offense continues to flourish—especially the Big Ten’s best passing offense—and a good running game accompanies a more frugal defensive unit, dreams may come true for Michigan State this year.

But hey, this isn’t the first time hopes have been up for the football program.