San Jose State (1-1) at Minnesota (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 12:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: TCF Bank Stadium (50,805) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: SJSU 1-0, Minnesota 2-0. Away Record: SJSU 0-1, Minnesota 1-0. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Conference Record: SJSU 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: For the second straight season, the Minnesota Golden Gophers try to get off to a 4-0 start as they entertain the San Jose State Spartans in non-conference action on Saturday.
The Gophers have had an easy time of it thus far, winning all three games by at least 17 points, the most recent of those coming last weekend in a 29-12 final over Western Illinois at home. However, the outcome was secondary to the health of head coach Jerry Kill who again suffered a seizure during the contest.
Coach Kill, who suffers from epilepsy, was taken to a local hospital after the first half and was home resting just two hours after the game. Kill, who took over at Minnesota in 2011, has now had four documented episodes during a game since arriving in Minneapolis.
As for the Spartans, they've already enjoyed a week off and the season isn't even a month old. The team opened with a 24-0 blanking of Sacramento State in late August, but then bowed to fifth-ranked Stanford earlier in September by a score of 34-13. The defeat versus the Cardinal snapped what had become an eight-game win streak for San Jose State, after the team closed out the 2012 campaign with seven straight victories.
Should the Spartans come out on top in this meeting, it will mean the program has started 2-1 or better in back-to-back seasons for the first time in more than three decades.
This is just the third meeting ever between these two programs, and the first since 1992 when the Spartans tied the series at one game apiece with a 39-30 victory.
Quarterback David Fales is the leader of the SJSU offense these days, completing an even 60 percent of his pass attempts for an average of 220.5 ypg and three touchdowns overall. Fales, who ranked third in the nation last season in pass efficiency rating, has just one interception thrown thus far, after tossing a total of nine all of 2012.
Chandler Jones and Noel Grigsby are both key figures in the passing game, combining for 23 receptions for 279 yards and those three TDs, and while Jabari Carr is the third member of the double-digit reception club with 10 grabs, he has produced just 48 yards.
Jason Simpson is trying to give the group a presence on the ground with his 178 net yards and a score on 32 carries, but with him being the only player with more than four rushing attempts the Gophers might find it easy to key their efforts on him more often than not.
In terms of the SJSU defense, Keith Smith has erupted for 30 tackles in just two games, while Simon Connette has matched him in solo stops with 13. Of the unit's three sacks, two have come from Eugene Taylor.
After being held scoreless through the first quarter by Western Illinois last Saturday, the Golden Gophers went to work as both David Cobb and Rodrick Williams scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the win. As a whole, Minnesota ran for 213 yards, while quarterbacks Mitch Leidner and Philip Nelson combined to hit on 10-of-12 passes for 124 yards.
Defensively, the Golden Gophers held the visitors to just 68 yards rushing and 230 yards of total offense overall, thanks to the efforts of Theiren Cockran and Ra'Shede Hageman who combined for three sacks and five tackles for loss.
After three games, teams have combined to score more than two touchdowns in only one quarter versus Minnesota, that being 16 points in the third. Needless to say, the Gophers are as balanced as can be on defense, permitting only 18.7 ppg which is tied for 36th in the country. As far as discipline is concerned, the Gophers rank third in the nation in penalty yards, flagged for just 17.3 yards per outing.
With only 116.7 ypg through the air (118th nationally), the Gophers could certainly stand some improvement in that area, but as long as the team can control the tempo by posting almost 260 ypg on the ground, it might not be much of an issue.
Assuming there are no setbacks during the week, expect to see coach Kill on the sidelines as always for the Gophers. As long as Minnesota can dictate the pace of the contest and has success running the ball regularly, that will keep Fales and the SJSU offense off the field and probably put another tally in the win column for the home team this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 27, San Jose State 21
09/18 10:31:06 ET