An undefeated record in late September can be deceiving. And confusing.
It’s hard to know what to make of North Carolina State and Washington’s 4-0 marks. Neither has played top competition so far. And both have barely escaped being upset at least once.
Those prefect records get put to the test Saturday when the Wolfpack host No. 1 Florida State and the Huskies face No. 16 Stanford in Seattle.
The first four games of Chris Petersen’s tenure with Washington have been odd. Playing without their starting quarterback, the Huskies slipped by Hawaii, 17-16. Next was a wild 59-52 victory against Eastern Washington, an FCS power.
The Huskies pounded Illinois (44-19), their most impressive victory, and then pulled away from Georgia State (45-14) after trailing 14-0 at the half.
North Carolina State has already passed last season’s win total in Year 2 under coach Dave Doeren by coming from behind to beat Georgia Southern 24-23 and then scoring at least 42 points in more comfortable wins against Old Dominion, South Florida and Presbyterian.
Jameis Winston returns to the action for the Seminoles after being suspended for last week’s Clemson game.
The last time Florida State went to Raleigh, North Carolina, was 2012, and EJ Manuel and the Seminoles were upset 17-16 by the Wolfpack. The ’Noles have lost only game since and enter with a 19-game winning streak.
“When you play a team with the nation’s longest winning streak, it’s a really good measuring stick,” Doeren said.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
No. 11 UCLA (minus 4) at No. 15 Arizona State
Sun Devils will be without QB Taylor Kelly. Bruins QB Brett Hundley’s status is uncertain because of an injury to his non-throwing arm. Key Pac-12 South game could turn into battle of backups. Mike Bercovici replaces Taylor. Jerry Neuheisel would step in for Hundley. ... UCLA 31-28.
Texas Tech (plus 14) at No. 24 Oklahoma State
Cowboys have won five straight meetings, scoring at least 52 in each of the last three ... Oklahoma State 42-24.
No. 6 Texas A&M (minus 8½) vs. Arkansas at Arlington, Texas
Razorbacks probably can’t stop Aggies’ passing game. Aggies probably can’t stop Razorbacks’ running game. ... Texas A&M 45-35.
No. 1 Florida State (minus 19) at N.C. State
After great escape against Clemson, do ’Noles return to form or continue search for answers? ... Florida State 34-17.
No. 7 Baylor (minus 21) at Iowa State
Bears scored 71 against Cyclones last season, but that was at home. Year before, Cyclones beat Bears in Ames and allowed only 21. Odd things can happen in Ames ... Baylor 41-24.
Tennessee (plus 17) at No. 12 Georgia
Bulldogs have won four straight vs. Volunteers, but last year’s game went to OT. Young Vols are bound to pull an upset this season, but probably not on the road ... Georgia 38-20.
Oregon State (plus 9) at No. 18 Southern California
The Beavers are another unbeaten team looking to make a statement ... USC 35-21.
Illinois (plus 19½) at No. 21 Nebraska
Don’t forget Huskers’ Ameer Abdullah when talking about nation’s best running backs — and Heisman Trophy contenders ... Nebraska 42-27.
UPSET SPECIAL I
Missouri (plus 6) at No. 13 South Carolina
Same Gamecocks team that was routed by Texas A&M can grab firm control of SEC East by beating the division’s defending champs. Lesson: long season ... Missouri 34-28.
UPSET SPECIAL II
No. 16 Stanford (minus 7½) at Washington
Cardinal have played only Army since losing to USC and have plenty of questions to answer, too ... Washington 28-20.
WORTH A LOOK
No. 8 Notre Dame (minus 12½) vs. Syracuse at East Rutherford, N.J.
Second straight game for Fighting Irish in an NFL stadium after beating Purdue in Indianapolis two weeks ago ... Notre Dame 28-17.
Memphis (plus 19½) at No. 10 Ole Miss
With Alabama up next for Rebels, beating the Tigers could be all that stands in the way of ESPN College GameDay making its first trip to Oxford for tailgating in the Grove ... Ole Miss 38-14.
Cincinnati (plus 15½) at No. 22 Ohio State
Bearcats have been having trouble stopping MAC offenses ... Ohio State 38-28.
UNRANKED BUT NOT UNINTERESTING
Minnesota (plus 12) at Michigan
Utah helped turn the Big House into the Big Empty. Gophers try to increase the angst in Ann Arbor ... Michigan 21-17.
North Carolina (plus 14) at Clemson
The DeShaun Watson era has begun at Clemson. The freshman quarterback should find the Tar Heels’ defense, which allowed over 700 yards to East Carolina last week, appealing ... Clemson 38-31.
Duke (plus 7) at Miami
Blue Devils snapped nine-game losing streak to Hurricanes last season ... Miami 31-21.
Record straight: 15-3
Record vs. points: 9-9.
Record straight: 59-16
Record vs. points: 33-42-1.
Best bet: 1-3.
Upset special: 2-2.