From 2016 to 2017: MSU's journey to the Holiday Bowl

From 2016 to 2017: MSU's journey to the Holiday Bowl
Posted at 4:41 PM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 16:41:52-05

Last season was disappointing for Michigan State's football program. Surprisingly so. The Spartans finished 3-9, missing out on a bowl game entirely. In the offseason, it got worse.

This summer, three players were dismissed from the team due to allegations of sexual assault and when the 2017 season started, the pressure was on. Could m-s-u bounce back from a disastrous year both on and off the field?

“I told our players we were going to step into the light, and you know…time marches on," head coach Mark Dantonio said back in April.

In June, former Spartans receiver Tony Lippett shared some advice for his former program. 

"They just need to refocus themselves and try to focus on football as much as they can," he said.

Fast forward to present day. The Spartans finished 9 -3 in the regular season and Thursday night they face Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.

"It’s rewarding. That’s an understatement probably because, you know, we’ve been through a lot," Dantonio said before the left for San Diego.

If you ask them — their hard work and focus this year — has paid off. They extended their season, giving themselves a shot at one more win.

"We definitely want to get 10 wins. We want to get Coach D his 100th win and obviously we get out 10th…that puts us in a pretty good spot. And next year’s team…we have a lot of guys back, a very young team…so it’s very exciting," said junior safety Khari Hill.

That word that was used so much at the beginning of the season —focus — is just as crucial now as it was then.

“I think every time you have an opportunity to play a football game you have to be ready, and you gotta be fresh to do that but your mindset has to be correct, so we’re going to try and make sure that’s in place. The opportunity to get 10 — both for Washington State and for us — puts us in a double digit type win category… and not too many football teams in the country can do that on a yearly basis, so that's our goal," said Dantonio.