PROVO, Utah -- Riley Nelson threw for 218 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 65 yards on nine carries to lift BYU to a 29-16 victory over San Jose State on Saturday night.
Nelson made his first start of the season after replacing Jake Heaps in the second half of a 27-24 victory over Utah State on Sept. 30.
Michael Alisa rushed for 92 yards on 16 carries for BYU (4-2), which won its third straight game. The Spartans (2-4) had a two-game winning streak snapped.
San Jose State's defense could not contain Nelson during the first half. He guided the Cougars to touchdowns on three straight possessions as BYU seized a 23-3 lead in the second quarter.
San Jose State made a game of it in the second half, twice pulling within 10 points. After Bene Benwikere intercepted Nelson, Jason Simpson capped a 12-play, 96-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run to make it 23-13 with 6:09 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter. San Jose State's last chance to cut into the BYU lead was thwarted when Travis Uale picked off Faulkner at the Cougars' 23 with 5:10 remaining.
The only thing stopping BYU early was turnovers. However, one of the mistakes worked to the team's advantage.
A fumble by Nelson at the San Jose State 3-yard line ended BYU's opening drive. But the Cougars scored moments later when a bad snap sailed out of the end zone for a safety.
BYU went up 9-0 when Richard Wilson took a short pass from Nelson and raced 21 yards to the end zone.
After Jens Alvernik kicked a 24-yard field goal for the Spartans, Nelson found Brian Kariya on a 1-yard pass to make it 16-3.
Kyle Van Noy set up BYU's next touchdown when he picked off a pass from Matt Faulkner and returned it 30 yards. Nelson needed just one play, a 40 yard bomb to McKay Jacobsen, to make the score 23-3.
By halftime, Nelson had thrown for 170 yards and three touchdowns on 10 of 14 passing. He had 42 yards on six carries.