Not too long ago, South Florida was a consistent contender in the Big East.

The Bulls had a winning record every year from 2006 through 2010 and were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country in 2007. Now, South Florida isn’t very good.

The Bulls team that Maryland plays Saturday was just 2-10 last season and struggled with a mediocre Football Championship Subdivision team (Western Carolina) in their season opener Saturday.

Western Carolina was 2-10 last year, including 1-7 in the Southern Conference, but the Catamounts led South Florida, 17-16, at halftime and lost, 36-31.

Bulls quarterback Mike White finished just 9 of 26 for 181 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Western Carolina quarterback Troy Mitchell, meanwhile, went 46 of 66 for 374 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against South Florida’s secondary.

The Bulls do appear to have some decent players.

Freshman running back Marlon Mack ran for 275 yards and four touchdowns against Western Carolina while averaging 11.5 yards per carry. Wide receiver Andre Davis had 735 yards last year.

Junior Sean Prince is listed as the ninth-best tight end in his draft class by NFLDraftScout.com, and South Florida ranked 29th nationally in rush defense last season.

However, White is back as the Bulls’ starting quarterback after throwing just three touchdowns with nine interceptions in six games last year. And the defense struggled to stop a Western Carolina quarterback whose stat line last season consisted of 10 interceptions compared to 12 touchdowns and 146.7 yards per game.

South Florida, however, did beat both Connecticut and Cincinnati last year. The Bulls also stayed close to Michigan State in a 21-6 loss, and only lost, 23-20, to then-17th-ranked Central Florida.

But the season also included a 53-21 loss to an FCS school (McNeese State) and a 31-6 defeat against a Rutgers team that finished with a 6-7 record.

Coach Randy Edsall and Maryland players surely will say all the right things leading up to this game, and they'll likely talk plenty about Mack, Davis and some of the other threats the Bulls do have. But the Terps clearly look like the more talented team heading into this matchup.

mzenitz@tribune.com

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