SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Nick Starkel threw for four touchdowns and 394 yards and defending Mountain West Conference champion San Jose State kicked off the season with a 45-14 win over Southern Utah on Saturday night.

Starkel, who finished 17-of-28 passing to nine receivers with one interception, also had a rushing touchdown to tie his career high with five total TDs. He finished 6 yards short of his fifth 400-yard passing game and a one TD throw shy of his career best.

The Spartans outgained the Thunderbirds 534-250.

Starkel's 1-yard run opened the scoring and San Jose State led 21-0 after one quarter. Starkel threw three first-half TD passes, including a 70-yarder to Sam Olson and a 65-yarder to Charles Ross with the Spartans leading 35-14 at the break.

Starkel's lone interception was a pick-6 returned by Kobe Singleton. Thunderbirds quarterback Justin Miller caught a TD pass off a trick play that came after a muffed punt by the Spartans, their first lost fumble since the 2019 season.

The Spartans went undefeated in six MWC games, were 7-1 overall and finished 24th in the final Associated Press poll last season. They drew 16,204 fans to Saturday's game, their largest home crowd since 2011.

The Thunderbirds played six Big Sky Conference games during the spring FCS season, going 1-5.


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