After a disappointing loss to Northwestern last week, Michigan State will now look to turn its season around this weekend when it hits the road to take on No. 8 Penn State on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio met with the media at his weekly press conference and said that Penn State obviously poses a big challenge for his team and added that, in his mind, his team should be 5-0 and needs to approach each week with that mentality.
“Obviously go to Penn State this weekend, we've had very competitive games here with them over the course of time and should be another great one,” he said. “Great atmosphere there. Another Big Ten game. Big Ten East Division game, so it's obviously big. As far as where we're at, you know, my perspective and I'm sure all of your perspectives, feel like we should be 5-0. My message to our players is: Play like it; play like we're 5-0. Keep the same mindset as we go forward.”
In the majority of Michigan State’s games this season, the Spartans have struggled in the first and fourth quarters and those struggles have been key factors in both of their losses this season.
The Spartans are now unranked and hold a 3-2 record as a once-promising season is now on the brink with a difficult October schedule with Penn State on Saturday and a home game against Michigan next week on the horizon.
When Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie met with reporters following Saturday’s loss and admitted that certain team members needed to be challenged as leaders and was planning to challenge his teammates this week to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
“You’ve got to bounce back quick,” Bachie said about having two games against two top 15 ranked teams coming up in consecutive weeks. “You’ve got to challenge certain people on this team, leaders on this team. If you really want to lead, you’re going to get challenged this week. I’m going to let them know that when Monday comes, people are going to be challenged because if you don’t want to lead, you don’t want to go win, then get out of the locker room. We don’t have any people like that, I don’t think at all, but we have to make sure everyone’s on board and we’re going in one direction together.”
With a second loss now and the season seemingly trending downward, Michigan State understandably heads into Saturday’s game against Penn State as a 13.5-point underdog, with very few giving the Spartans a chance to come out of Happy Valley with a win.
But with a lot of people counting the Spartans out, Dantonio said that could be something for his team to rally around and that being able to potentially pick up a win in a challenging environment like Happy Valley could change the outlook on Michigan State’s season in a hurry.
“I think you've got to play away games in this conference and you've got to look forward to playing away,” he said. “That's a great atmosphere over there. We've gone over there and we've won before. I think it's fun. If you play at home all the time, you play away all the time, those type of things could become redundant a little bit. I think when you go away and play in a different environment, I think it takes on a different mentality for your football team. It's a little bit us-against-the-world type mentality. It will serve us well. We've got to go over and play well. We'll have our opportunities, though.”
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