1. The Nebraska win
Let’s call it what it is. The 2023 Michigan State football season was a complete disaster. No bowl game for a second straight year, losing to the ranked teams on the schedule (Washington, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State) by a combined 170-10 and it could have been so much worse if starters weren’t pulled, oh yeah, and a head coach encompassed in scandal.
Even when Mel Tucker was coaching, the team struggled for the first 30 minutes of the games against Central Michigan and Richmond. Once Mel Tucker was relieved of his duties, the Spartans would go on to lose seven straight games. There were blowouts, close games lost by player execution, close games lost by coaching malpractice, and a bizarre combination of both resulting in a blown 18-point lead against Rutgers.
While all of these things needed to take place in order to force Alan Haller to clean house and the easy thing for the players to do would be to hit the transfer portal and protect their health for other teams, the Spartans didn’t give up. Nebraska had won five of their last six going into the matchup and was favored by 3.5 points. By no means was it a pretty football game with both teams being held to under 300 total offense and three turnovers by the Cornhuskers, but at the end of the game, the Spartans added one to the win column at a time when the fans wondering if we would have to wait an entire offseason to see another one.
It was Harlon Barnett’s first win as the MSU head coach and a weight lifted off Spartan Nation. It was the culmination of perseverance and hard work that had finally, finally paid off for the coaches and players who were put in an impossible situation just two weeks into the season.
While there really was no turning the season around at that point, it was important for the players, coaches, and fans to experience joy after so much adversity had happened.