This is the third meeting between the two teams. The two teams split the previous two meetings, both in the Metrodome.
The Gophers won the first matchup 26-20 in 1991. The Spartans won 39-30 the following season.
Top Spartans players
Offense: David Fales. The senior quarterback has completed 60 percent of his passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns through two games this season.
Defense: Keith Smith. The senior linebacker leads the nation with 30 tackles through two games this season. He also has one tackle-for-a-loss.
Gopher keys to victory
Don't let Fales get comfortable
Fales is considered to be a top quarterback prospect for the 2014 draft. He can throw the ball as well as anyone in college football, but he is not a runner. There are two ways to get him out of his comfort zone. One is to get quick pressure from the defensive linemen and linebackers. The other is to get good coverage from the defensive backs and linebackers.
Avoid a slow start
Slow starts have plagued the Gophers through three games. They have been able to overcome it and pull away in the second half. That can work against UNLV, New Mexico State and Western Illinois, but the schedule gets tougher starting Saturday. San Jose State and the entire Big Ten schedule is not going to be that easy.
Fales is the first formidable quarterback the Gophers face this season. He is expected to give them fits - even some Big Ten writers think the Spartans will win just because of him. However, the Gophers faced two similar quarterbacks last season. Alex Carder of Western Michigan and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse were seen as potential NFL quarterbacks. The two quarterbacks went opposite directions and Nassib was at one point a possible first round selection. Neither Carder nor Nassib looked that good in their trip to Minneapolis. The Gophers are a better defense, especially in the secondary. Fales will have a mediocre game and the offense will pull away in the second half. Gophers 24, Spartans 10.