Entering the season, Michigan State was expected to challenge Ohio State and Penn State for the B1G East and a trip to Indianapolis. Mark Dantonio still believes that’s the case, even after a 3-2 start.

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Dantonio talked about Michigan State’s 29-19 loss on Saturday, marking the team’s second loss on the year and first B1G defeat. The Spartans’ head coach has been disappointed by the results, but he believes his team should be undefeated on the year.

“I feel like we should be 5-0,” Dantonio said on Tuesday. “My message to our players is play like you’re 5-0.”

Michigan State lost on a last-second field goal to Arizona State in Week 2. Last Saturday, it had multiple opportunities to beat Northwestern.

Dantonio pointed to injuries, which has led to inconsistent play on the offensive line, has been a huge issue, particularly in the two losses.

“Obviously we’re banged up a little bit,” he said. “We’ll get (starters) back, but it will be a little bit.”

Those struggles on the offensive line, as well as an injury to L.J. Scott has caused problems with Michigan State’s rushing attack. At just an average of 123 yards per game, the Spartans’ ground game ranks 13th in the B1G.

Dantonio says that’s something that has to be fixed.

“When we cam here in 2007, the one thing I said is, ‘Hey, we’re gonna run the football.’ I still believe that,” he said. “We have to run the ball. I don’t think that’s earth-shattering. I don’t think I’m letting the cat out of the bag. I’m sure Penn State is aware of that.”

Michigan State will have to generate something offensively this weekend if it hopes to hang with the Nittany Lions. PSU is averaging a conference-high 49.6 points per game this season.

Dantonio seems to understand exactly what the problem has been for the Spartans this season. It’s just a matter of getting it corrected.

They’ll have to figure something out in a hurry to beat Penn State.