Michigan State has the toughest schedule in college football in 2017.
That’s the conclusion of Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports, who ranked three Big Ten teams in his top five, emphasizing the Big Ten’s nine-game conference schedule and absence of FCS opponents.
Fornelli on the Spartans: “If Michigan State rebounds from an awful 3-9 record last year to compete in the Big Ten East this year, it will have earned it. The nonconference isn't murderous, but it's not simple, either. Bowling Green should be a win, and Western Michigan won't be easy, but there's some question as to how good the Broncos will be following so many key losses. Then there's Notre Dame, which went 4-8 last season, but Notre Dame was a better team than its record reflected. Still, what does it for Michigan State is its Big Ten schedule. The Spartans not only have to play Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State this season, but only Penn State will be coming to East Lansing. Also, five of Michigan State's Big Ten games will be on the road this season (it's the East's turn), and its cross-divisional draw avoids the West's heavyweights, but it still provides challenges in Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern.”
Fornelli’s toughest schedules after MSU belong to Purdue, Syracuse, Illinois and Oklahoma State.
The Boilermakers’ non-conference opponents are Louisville, Ohio and Missouri while the Fighting Illini tackle Ball State, Western Kentucky and South Florida.
MICHIGAN STATE 2017 SCHEDULE
Sept. 2, Bowling Green, noon, (ESPNU)
Sept. 9, Western Michigan, 3:30 p.m. (BTN)
Sept. 23, Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. (Fox)
Sept. 30, Iowa, (time and TV TBA)
Oct. 7, at Michigan (time and TV TBA)
Oct. 14, at Minnesota (TBA)
Oct. 21, Indiana, 3:30 or 4 p.m. (TBA)
Oct. 28, at Northwestern, time TBA (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2)
Nov. 4, Penn State (time and TV TBA)
Nov. 11, at Ohio State (time and TV TBA)
Nov. 18, Maryland (time and TV TBA)
Nov. 25, at Rutgers (time and TV TBA)