"Obviously, (Boykin) got us back to a bowl game, which was something that was a concern from the beginning anytime you make that kind of change," Patterson said.
The Spartans also got off to a solid start. Their only loss in their first four games was to Notre Dame, which will play in the national championship on Jan. 7.
Michigan State went up and down after that, losing five of its final eight games.
The problem for the Spartans was pulling out close games. Their five losses in the Big Ten were by a combined 13 points, leaving them precariously close to missing out on the postseason.
Needing a win in its final game, Michigan State pulled it out, powering past Minnesota for a 26-10 win Nov. 24 to earn its eighth bowl appearance since 2001.
"The main thing when you look at our football team, we've got to finish, there's no question about that," Dantonio said. "But we can play. The margin of victory has been very, very narrow for either party, whether you're playing us or we're playing you."
They could be in for another one in the desert against TCU.