Heading into last season, Michigan State was coming off a 3-9 finish, unranked and widely dismissed as a contender in the Big Ten.

The Spartans responded with a 10-3 record in 2017 to surpass the expectations of many and return 19 starters heading into this season.

Michigan State mailbag: Potential breakout players and running back depth chart.

Projections obviously vary, but we picked up three national college football preview magazines to see what is being said about Michigan State in the Big Ten race and a look at predicted all-conference players.

Each of the three magazines has a regional cover featuring a Spartan with running back LJ Scott on Street & Smith’s and quarterback Brian Lewerke on Athlon Sports and Lindy’s Sports.

Notable quote: “A return to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2015 is unlikely but not impossible. The Spartans are a dangerous contender in one of the strongest divisions in college football and will continue to be a problem for Penn State and Michigan. No one is expecting Michigan State to leapfrog Ohio State, and that’s the way Dantonio likes it.”

Notable quote: “In terms of pure talent, the Spartans are fourth in their own division, though the history of Dantonio’s tenure at MSU is rife with teams that developed quickly and overachieved. If the Spartans end up in Indianapolis come December, it certainly would be far from the first time Michigan State spoiled the party in the Big Ten East.”.

Notable quote: “Michigan State won’t sneak up on anyone this year. It won’t need to with all of this talent and mojo, along with the ever-present chip on the shoulder that defines this program. Winning the East is a very real possibility.”