San Jose State quarterback David Fales passed for 294 yards and two touchdowns -- in the first half -- but the Gophers went to the locker room with a 20-17 lead Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Gophers held San Jose State to three points on the Spartans' first three trips to the red zone. Meantime, Mitch Leidner proved himself to be a running force in his first career start.
Leidner rushed 13 times for 85 yards in the first half, carrying several tackles for extra yards along the way.
Midway through the second quarter, Leidner had as many touchdown runs as passing yards -- two.
Leidner came up with a big 37-yard completion to KJ Maye on third-down, helping set up Minnesota's third touchdown, which was a 1-yard run by David Cobb.
Gophers kicker Chris Hawthorne had a tough first half, missing a 51-yard field goal attempt, missing an extra point on Minnesota's second touchdown and nearly missing another extra point on the third touchdown.
The Gophers will have to find a way to stop Fales in the second half. He hit Chandler Jones on touchdown passes of 76 yards and 32 yards in the first half.