A huge East Division showdown highlights this Saturday's action in Conference USA, as East Carolina visits Southern Miss beginning at 2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS Sports Network. The teams have combined to win three of the last four C-USA Championships, with Southern Miss winning last year and East Carolina taking the title in 2008 and 2009. Both teams will be making a change in their starting quarterback heading into this game. Freshman Anthony Alford, who came off the bench to rush for 84 yards in the season opener at Nebraska, takes over for the Golden Eagles in place of Chris Campbell. It will mark the first time a true freshman has started at QB for USM since Damion Carter did it against Cincinnati on Oct. 4, 2003. Shane Carden, who started the second half at South Carolina last Saturday and threw for 141 yards and a TD, takes the reins for the Pirates. Dave Ryan, Ron Zook and Evan Washburn will be on hand to call the game.
SMU continues its five-game stretch of facing teams from the Lone Star State by hosting new SEC member Texas A&M on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CDT. The Mustangs defense forced a school-record 10 turnovers in last week's 52-0 win against Stephen F. Austin, including a Conference USA record seven interceptions. SMU junior DB Kenneth Acker was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week after notching two interceptions and scoring two touchdowns - one on an interception return and one on a blocked field goal try. FSN will televise the game, with Ron Thulin and Shaun King in the booth and Desmond Purnell on the sidelines.
UCF, the only Conference USA team that opened with back-to-back road games, gets set to host future C-USA member FIU in its home opener at 4 p.m. CDT. Both teams have sophomore quarterbacks that are off to strong starts. In the first two games, FIU's Jake Medlock has a 61.3 completion percentage with 557 passing yards and three touchdowns, along with 160 rushing yards. UCF's Blake Bortles tossed six touchdowns on 110 attempts as a freshman in 2011 and this year he has five scoring strikes on just 57 attempts. CSS will carry this game regionally and Bright House Networks will show it in Florida, with Bernie Guenther, Chuck Oliver and Rachel Baribeau set to announce the in-state battle.
Rice returns to the road looking to build on the momentum of last week's come-from-behind 25-24 win at Kansas when it visits future C-USA member Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. CDT. The Bulldogs will be holding their home opener after posting a wild 56-49 win at Houston last week - a game that set four new NCAA records. Owls junior QB Taylor McHargue is off to a strong start, completing 63 percent of his passes for 408 yards and two touchdowns, while leading the Owls in rushing with 113 yards and a score. This game will be available via ESPN3, with Rich Hollenberg and Ralph Friedgen calling the action.
Marshall and Ohio meet at 6:30 p.m. EDT in Huntington, where the Thundering Herd have won seven in a row over the Bobcats. Expect some offense in this matchup, as Marshall enters with the nation's top-ranked passing offense and place sixth on total offense (580 yards per game), while Ohio places 14th in total offense (541.5 per game). This should be a tremendous quarterback matchup with Marshall's Rakeem Cato (70-of-96 for 790 yards and five TD passes) going against Ohio's Tyler Tettleton (46-of-64 for 481 yards and 4 TDs), son of former major league catcher Mickey Tettleton. Cato is currently ranked fourth in the nation in passing.
UAB returns from its bye week to face No. 8 South Carolina in Columbia at 7 p.m. EDT. First-year Blazers head coach Garrick McGee won three straight games against the Gamecocks while serving as Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas from 2009-11. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has 199 career collegiate wins as a head coach. He is looking to become the 71st coach in college history (all divisions) to record 200 career victories. FSN will televise the contest with Bob Rathbun, Tim Couch and Elizabeth Moreau set to describe the action.
Rounding out Saturday's action, Houston travels to the Rose Bowl to face No. 22 UCLA at 7:30 p.m. CDT on the Pac-12 Networks, Tulsa hosts Nicholls State (6 p.m. CDT), Memphis welcomes Middle Tennessee (6 p.m. CDT) and the 90th meeting of the I-10 rivalry takes place when New Mexico State plays UTEP at the Sun Bowl (6 p.m. MDT).