Normally known for an incredible offensive attack, the Incarnate Word Cardinals defense was the main story coming out of Beaumont, Texas, last weekend in a 17-7 win over Lamar. It was huge, no question. Lamar was undefeated in conference play, and we haven't seen a defensive-led performance by UIW yet this season.
When you have an explosive, uptempo offense like Incarnate Word's, the defensive side of the ball can get put in tough situations if the offense either scores too quickly or has quick three-and-outs.
Last weekend, the Cardinals were just not as effective offensively as they've been all season. This is the mark of a great team, however. The UIW defense held Lamar to 3 of 16 on third downs, under 2.4 yards per carry on the ground and forced two turnovers. It was the UIW defense that led from the front, giving the offense ample opportunities to put the game away -- which it ultimately did in the fourth quarter.
If it continues to come together like this for Incarnate Word, it could go deep in the FCS playoffs.
|1. South Dakota State
|The Jackrabbits were able to overcome an early 3-0 deficit to South Dakota, rolling to a 37-3 victory. All jokes aside, this was a dominating performance by SDSU.
|RB Michael Yarns had himself a day with five total touchdowns -- four on the ground and one as a receiver. His receiving output was the main story as he hauled in four receptions for 105 yards in a 51-13 rout of Towson.
|The Vandals rebounded against Montana State with a comeback win at home. QB Gevani McCoy's late touchdown pass, which capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive, helped Idaho pull off the upset.
|The Paladins offense struggled against East Tennessee State, but three turnovers from the defense gave it enough opportunities with the ball to close out the game.
|It was good to see the Grizzlies come out against Northern Colorado firing on all cylinders in a 40-0 shutout. Huge game this weekend against Sacramento State.
|6. Montana State
|The Bobcats took one on the chin against Idaho. They just got dominated in the time of possession; 41:27 to 18:33 won't give you a chance.
|7. Sacramento State
|Freshman reserve QB Carson Conklin tossed three touchdown passes to help the Hornets get back on the winning track against Idaho State.
|8. Incarnate Word
|UIW passed a big test last weekend against Lamar, setting up a de facto Southland Conference championship game against Nicholls. Both teams are undefeated in conference play.
|9. South Dakota
|The Coyotes couldn't pull off the upset against South Dakota State. And the way they got dominated just shows the gap between them and the Jackrabbits.
|10. North Carolina Central
|NCCU opened up a whole can on South Carolina State. The offense rolled up 62 points against the Bulldogs, led by a seven-touchdown day from QB Davius Richard.
|The Mocs have a chance to win at least a share of the SoCon title this weekend if they are able to beat No. 4 Furman.
|12. Florida A&M
|The Rattlers won their 13th straight conference game with a 45-7 drubbing of Prairie View A&M.
|The run game and defense of the Leopards helped them escape with a 35-25 win over Georgetown.
|When the Wildcats are able to throw the ball like they did last weekend against Stony Brook, they are extremely tough to beat. It'll take a complete game Saturday against New Hampshire to move their winning streak to four games.
|15. North Dakota State
|The Bison get a chance to make a statement against South Dakota State this weekend. This is the type of game they need to remind folks who they are.
|16. Southern Illinois
|Maybe last week's 63-0 win over Western Illinois was a tune-up for this weekend's showdown vs. a South Dakota team coming off of a bad loss.
|17. Austin Peay
|The Governors just keep on winning games. They control their own destiny with two out of the last three games against Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas.
|18. William & Mary
|A 31-28 victory over Monmouth helped stop a three-game skid for the Tribe. Can they keep that going the rest of the way to secure an at-large bid?
|The Great Danes have their eyes set on topping the CAA. However, a win vs. William & Mary could help solidify an at-large bid for them come playoff selection time.
|Even though the Bears' offense was rolling against Western Carolina, it was their defense that forced six turnovers in a 45-38 win. That puts them right into the playoff conversation.
|21. UT Martin
|The Skyhawks' odds of running away with the Big South-OVC Association title took a big-time blow with a loss to Gardner-Webb. They are still in pretty good shape, however, because they have to face SE Missouri State in a few weeks.
|22. Tennessee State
|Coach Eddie George has his Tigers with only one FCS loss (vs. UT Martin) on the season and a chance to crash the playoff party.
|23. Western Carolina
|That loss to Mercer may have knocked the Catamounts out of an at-large bid. They'll need to finish strong and get some help in order to make it to the postseason.
|24. Northern Iowa
|The Panthers have won five of their last six games and worked themselves into at-large territory. QB Theo Day's play in the five wins has been a big reason why.
|Crimson RB Shane McLaughlin's 156-yard effort helped Harvard get back on the winning track and back into the Top 25.