TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -As far as Matt Grothe is concerned, No. 10 South Florida is starting all over.
The Bulls (5-0) tore through their nonconference schedule, climbing into the top 10 for the second time in school history. To stay there, they'll likely have to do what they've never done - win the Big East.
The quest begins Thursday night against Pittsburgh (3-1).
``We look at the season like we are 0-0 now,'' Grothe, USF's dual-threat quarterback, said. ``It is good to be 5-0 at this point, but if we don't win this one, it's not a good start to the Big East. It will be a good challenge for us.''
USF is coming off its most complete performance of the season, a 41-10 rout of North Carolina State. Pitt has won three straight following a season-opening loss.
entality now as we head into the conference schedule.''
South Florida figures to have its hands full containing a pair of Pitt running backs LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling, who have combined 580 yards and seven touchdowns rushing. McCoy had seven 100-yard games as a freshman in 2007, and is coming off a season-best 149 yards in a victory over Syracuse last week.
``Both are different types,'' Leavitt said. ``They work extremely hard and it will be a great challenge for our defense.''
South Florida may be without All-American defensive end George Selvie, who missed last Saturday's win at North Carolina State and has been limited in practice this week because of a right ankle injury.
Craig Marshall filled in for Selvie last week and had a sack, a forced fumble and his first career interception.
Pittsburgh is preparing as if Selvie will play.
``He's got tremendous speed,'' Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt said. ``He's a great player and our guys know that. We've got to account for him and know where he's at.''
Wannstedt is just as concerned about Pitt's defense, allowing 306.4 yards per game, finding a way to slow Grothe and the South Florida offense.
``We need to continue to play smart,'' Wannstedt said. ``The last time we played down there, we made a lot of mistakes and took key penalties. We need to improve on third-down conversions. We haven't done a good job the last two weeks in third-and-short, and that's going to be a key in this game.''
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