SAN JOSE -- It is tough for San Jose State to know what to expect this week when it takes its first true trip to face Minnesota on Saturday.

The Golden Gophers (3-0) have question marks stretching from the health of their coach and several key players to the strength of their nonconference schedule.

One thing the Spartans know is that they will face a big, physical team with a power running game, qualities typically found in a Big Ten Conference opponent.

"I'm excited to go back to Big Ten country," SJSU coach Ron Caragher said. "We know it's going to be a physical game."

The status isn't known of Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who suffered an epileptic seizure Saturday during a 29-12 home victory over Western Illinois. He was resting comfortably at home soon after the game.

"It's my understanding that he's in good health," Caragher said. "I know that was a scary incident. Certainly hope he's back in full health and on the opposite sideline. I hear great things about what he brings to the game."

SJSU is preparing to face an opponent it expects to be similar to Stanford, which overpowered the Spartans in a 34-13 victory Sept. 7. Caragher noted the Gophers' offensive linemen, who are big and athletic and help produce a strong running game that sets up play-action passes.

Minnesota has passed on 28 percent of its offensive plays. Quarterback Philip Nelson, whose status is unknown because of a hamstring injury, is the team's leading rusher. Running backs Rodrick Williams and David Cobb are averaging over 7 yards per carry while filling in for starter Donnell Kirkwood, who injured his ankle in the season opener but might be back this week.

Even if Nelson is healthy enough to play, backup Mitch Leidner is expected to get playing time. He played well in relief of Nelson on Saturday, completing 7 of 8 passes for 105 yards and rushing 17 times for 64 yards.

"I think those two quarterbacks are similar," Caragher said. "They're both good, they've been effective at moving the football. We certainly need to be prepared for both."

This matchup has been pointed to as Minnesota's first true test this season. The Gophers opened with wins over UNLV and New Mexico State -- teams near the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision -- before beating the Football Championship Subdivision's Western Illinois.

Against UNLV, Minnesota didn't take its first lead until the final seconds of the first half and benefited from two special-teams touchdowns and a defensive score. In the win over New Mexico State, Marcus Jones had a punt return touchdown (he also returned a kickoff for a score against UNLV), and the Gophers scored on defense again.

  • Caragher isn't concerned about his offense, which is averaging just 18.5 points per game to rank 10th in the Mountain West Conference and 104th in the nation. That stat is partially influenced by facing Stanford's tough defense, but the Spartans didn't exactly light it up against Sacramento State in their opener.

    "I'm not into statistics and fancy numbers," Caragher said. "I just want the offense to execute. I think we've been close on a few additional big plays in both games. I think once we get those it'll be real exciting for our team. I'm confident we will. Things will click. It's just a matter of when."

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    SATURDAY'S GAME
    San Jose State (1-1) at Minnesota (3-0), 9 a.m. ESPN2