It wasn't until November last year - after Michigan State pounded rival Michigan - that the idea of the Spartans playing in the Rose Bowl started to feel like a serious possibility.
This season, coach Mark Dantonio's team won't have the luxury of remaining under the radar.
Dantonio says handling success has been one of the main topics for the Spartans as they get ready to defend their Big Ten title.
The Spartans went undefeated in the Big Ten last year, which was a surprising rise after the team could hardly move the ball on offense during the first couple games of the season. The question now is whether Michigan State can handle heightened expectations. Dantonio's program has always seems to have a chip on its shoulder.