Ian Humphreys will assume the controls at fly-half for Ulster with Paddy Jackson still on the mend, while centre
Stuart McCloskey is rewarded with a third consecutive start after a man-of-the-match performance against Edinburgh.
There are two changes to the pack - Andrew Warwick earning the start at loosehead while Wilson drops to the bench for Nick Williams - as Ulster aim to topple the Warriors' unbeaten start to the GUINNESS PRO12.
The Ulstermen were pipped 13-12 at home by the Warriors last year before losing 27-9 at Scotstoun, and No.8 Wilson admits his side must step up the intensity to avoid a repeat.
"No disrespect (to the opposition so far) but this will be the first big test against supposedly the best team in the league on current form," said Wilson.
"We have talked about having to step things up and there has been that extra edge in training and we know that without looking too far ahead the next three games are going to be crucial.
"I played in the 13-12 defeat against Glasgow and we actually didn't play too badly. It was one of those weird ones where you look back and think 'how did they win it?'
"We definitely owe them one especially after the home game last year as we felt that was one that got away from us."
The Warriors have not lost a regular-season game since March and are only set to get stronger with the return of Scotland flyer Sean Maitland from injury.
Peter Murchie won the battle with Stuart Hogg to start at full-back, while Mark Bennett lines up on the outside of Peter Horne in the centres.
Townsend has decided to change up the half-backs - Finn Russell and Henry Pyrgos coming in for Duncan Weir and Niko Matawalu - while Rob Harley and Chris Fusaro are two of seven changes among the forwards.
And despite the Warriors' storming start to the season, Townsend has warned against letting complacency creep in across the Irish Sea.
"Our recent games with Ulster have been very competitive and (the game) will be another tough test for us," he said.
"They had a good win last weekend and will be coming into the game with confidence. We have huge respect for our opponents and we're looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd at the Kingspan Stadium.
"We're expecting a high-intensity match and both teams will be looking to go into their respective European campaigns off the back of a good performance."
Kingspan Stadium, 5.05pm. Live on Sky Sports
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 114th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Correll, Paul Haycock (IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Murray White (IRFU)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
1st Floor Simmonscourt House
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland