Cullowhee, NC (Sports Network) - Mark Speir's first season as Western Carolina's head football coach will include games against FBS opponents Marshall and Alabama.
Western Carolina also will play five home games in a schedule announced Friday.
Speir will make his debut at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field on Thursday, Aug. 30 against NCAA Division II member Mars Hill.
The Catamounts will then travel to Huntington, W.Va., to take on Marshall, their former rival in the Southern Conference. The all-time series is tied 9-9-2.
The third non-conference game will be the Catamounts' regular-season finale at Alabama Nov. 17 in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide are the 2011 BCS national champions.
Within SoCon play, Western Carolina will host Samford (Sept. 22), 2011 conference champion Georgia Southern (Oct. 6), Appalachian State (Oct. 27) in the 77th edition of the "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug," and Chattanooga (Nov. 3).
The Catamounts also will visit SoCon opponents Wofford (Sept. 15), Furman (Sept. 29), The Citadel (Oct. 13) and Elon (Oct. 20).
2012 Western Carolina Football Schedule:
Thursday, Aug. 30 - Mars Hill, Cullowhee, N.C.
Saturday, Sept. 8 - at Marshall, Huntington, W.Va.
Saturday, Sept. 15 - at Wofford*, Spartanburg, S.C.
Saturday, Sept. 22 - Samford*, Cullowhee, N.C.
Saturday, Sept. 29 - at Furman*, Greenville, S.C.
Saturday, Oct. 6 - Georgia Southern* (Homecoming), Cullowhee, N.C.
Saturday, Oct. 13 - at The Citadel*, Charleston, S.C.
Saturday, Oct. 20 - at Elon*, Elon, N.C.
Saturday, Oct. 27 - Appalachian State*, Cullowhee, N.C.
Saturday, Nov. 3 - Chattanooga*, Cullowhee, N.C.
Saturday, Nov. 17 - at Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
* - Southern Conference game
01/27 14:39:35 ET