TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Matt Grothe and South Florida are disappointed, though not discouraged.
Quarterback Grothe and the No. 19 Bulls have had more than a week to ponder the team's first loss of the season and are eager to get back on track in the Big East against Syracuse on Saturday.
``We know that we control our own destiny,'' Grothe said. ``If we can win out then we have a chance to really put ourselves in a good situation.''
It's the second straight year the Bulls (5-1, 0-1) have stumbled early in the conference schedule after climbing into the Top 10. They reached No. 2 before a loss to Rutgers sent them tumbling in the rankings.
``We are disappointed when we lose. We are happier when we win. It is human nature,'' coach Jim Leavitt said, looking back on the team's 26-21 home loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 2.
ear. Everything I have ever asked them to do, they have done. They work very hard. They are really a great group. They play hard. Every game is tough.''
Syracuse (1-5, 0-2) dropped its first two conference games 34-24 at home to Pitt and 17-6 on the road at West Virginia.
However, the Orange feel they're headed in the right direction in their fourth season under coach Greg Robinson.
The Orange, 2-21 in the Big East and 8-33 overall since Robinson took over, not only were competitive in those games but were in a position to win both of them before faltering down the stretch.
``We didn't win either one of those, but at the same time we were a better team when we stepped on the field with Pitt than we were the week before that, and we were a better team against West Virginia than I think we were against Pittsburgh,'' Robinson said.
``The question is, 'Are we going to be a better team when we step onto that field against South Florida than we were against West Virginia?''
The one thing that Robinson doesn't want Saturday is the mistake-prone team that was manhandled by USF a year ago. The Orange turned the ball over four times and were held to 15 yards rushing.
``I look at that game and say that better not be us this week. That was as much us as it was them, in my opinion,'' Robinson said.
on Noel Devine's 92-yard TD run with just over 4 minutes remaining, Leavitt and his players are expecting a much stiffer challenge.
The bye week gave several USF players, including All-American defensive end George Selvie, a chance to get healthy. It also gave the Bulls time to work on some things Pitt did defensively to frustrate the offense.
``Hopefully we can learn from the loss,'' Grothe said.
Grothe threw for 181 yards and two TDs and ran for 73 and one TD against Syracuse a year ago. There's a lot more to USF's offense, though, than one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks.
Mike Ford rushed for 134 yards and two scores in the 2007 meeting at the Carrier Dome and may be as healthy as he's been in weeks on Saturday after being slowed much of this season by a high ankle sprain.
Robinson stressed the Orange will have to be disciplined on defense to have a chance to disrupt Grothe, who also has a trio of receivers - Jessie Hester, Taurus Johnson and A.J. Love - who are especially dangerous after making the catch.
There will be times when the USF star will get outside the pocket, and Robinson said it will be important for Syracuse not to overreact.
``He is a creator at making plays. I've seen (Doug) Flutie and a bunch of those types and he has that knack about him,'' Robinson said. ``If you worry so much about containing him, you let him sit in that pocket and this guy can eat you up.''

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