The Gophers looked like they might be in trouble at halftime Saturday.
San Jose State quarterback David Fales had passed for 294 yards in the first half, and Minnesota was clinging to a three-point lead.
But the defense stymied Fales in the second half, and Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner just kept churning out touchdowns and rushing yards.
Leidner scored four rushing touchdowns, becoming the first Gophers quarterback to do that since 1967, as Minnesota pulled away for a 43-24 victory before an announced crowd of 45,647 at TCF Bank Stadium.
Making his first career start, with Philip Nelson out with a hamstring injury, Leidner finished with 24 carries for 151 yards. Leidner more than doubled his passing output, as he completed five of 12 passes for 71 yards.
David Cobb added 25 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns for the Gophers, and Fales finished with 434 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Gophers ended non-conference play with a 4-0 record, just like last season, when they went to Iowa in Week 5 and lost 31-13.
Next week, the Gophers will play host to Iowa at TCF Bank Stadium. The Hawkeyes defeated Western Michigan on Saturday 59-3 to improve to 3-1.
Leading San Jose State 20-17 at halftime, the Gophers went three-and-out on their first second half possession. But Fales had a pass deflected by Jeremy Baltazar, and Aaron Hill grabbed it for an interception, returning into to the Spartans’ 12-yard line.
Leidner turned that into a 1-yard touchdown sneak.
San Jose State's first three second-half possessions went: interception, three-and-out, three-and-out. The Gophers got a field goal from Chris Hawthorne and another 1-yard touchdown sneak from Leidner to take a 36-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The last Gophers quarterback to rush for four touchdowns in the same game was Curtis Wilson against Indiana in 1967.