The University of Central Arkansas on Saturday will play its biggest showdown home football game since it has been an NCAA Division I FCS member.

Sam Houston State, the FCS runner-up last season, preseason Southland Conference favorite and ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the country in all polls, will come to First Security Field at Estes Stadium for the conference opener for both teams.

Both teams have been competitive against upper-level opponents before falling to second-half onslaughts. UCA led Ole Miss at the half. Sam Houston led Baylor on Saturday.

"We have 14 to 15 starters back; they have 18 or 19; both of us are good football teams who had first-half leads against FBS teams before things got away from us. Both of us have won the games against non Division I teams (SHSU against Incarnate Word and UCA against Bacone) we are supposed to win," said UCA coach Clint Conque at Monday's weekly Bearbacker luncheon.

Conque added, "This is going to go a long way to establishing the identity of both teams for 2012."

The Bears and the Bearkats play at 3 p.m. Saturday in a regionally televised game on the SLC TV Network.

"We are going to be true to what we are and they are going to be true to what they are. It will be a game that will come down to execution and big plays," Conque said.