The game was a tale of two halves as the Mustangs led 20-7 at intermission. The Spartans, however, dominated the final 30 minutes, outscoring SMU 27-3.
"We could not close the deal," said SMU head coach Phil Bennett. "We played a great first half but couldn't finish them off in the second half. We had opportunities when we got inside their 10-yard line and only got field goals. That wasn't good enough against their offense."
San Jose State's comeback was sparked by key defensive plays. SMU's Kris Briggs fumbled late in the third period, and four plays later Rislov threw a nine-yard TD pass to Marcus Helfman to cut the deficit to 23-21.
The Spartans took a 27-23 lead, their first of the game, early in the fourth quarter on Rislov's 11-yard scoring strike to Ezekie Staples, his only catch of the game. Rislov's two-point conversion pass failed.
The Mustangs failed on two chances to regained the lead. On its first possession after falling behind, SMU drove to the San Jose State 15-yard line but lost 11 yards on its first three plays. On fourth down, Tate Wallis' thrown to Cody Cardwell fell incomplete in the end zone.
The Mustang defense held and SMU took over at its own 35 with 2:47 to play, but Wallis was intercepted on the first play from scrimmage by defensive end Phillip Perry, who returned the ball 33 yards for a touchdown.
"I really believed we were going to drive down the field and score to win the game," said Bennett. "Tate released the ball the too low. He threw it head-high."
SMU took the opening kickoff and marched 66 yards in seven plays with Keylon Kincade capping the drive with a five-yard scoring run.
San Jose State tied the score on a Lance Martin 16-yard run midway through the first period.
Wallis found Johnnie Freeman for an eight-yard TD later in the quarter, then Trent Stephenson booted second quarter field goals of 21 and 29 yards to give SMU a 20-7 halftime advantage.
San Jose State started its second half rally on its second possession when Rislov hit Charles Pauley with a 75-yard TD pass on third-and-16.
Stephenson's third field goal of the game, from 30 yards out, put SMU ahead 23-14 with 5:515 remaining in the third quarter.
The Mustangs outrushed San Jose State 267 yards to 57 yards and had a time of possession of 39:06 to 20:54 advantage.
Now it's back over to Big Ten country, as the 4 and 2 Spartans travel to the "horse shoe" to take on the nationally ranked #6 Buckeyes of Ohio State.
Strap on your helmets boys and girls, as this one is gonna give all fans of SJSU a real taste of big time college football.