TAMPA — Matt Grothe's career-best streak of 110 passes without an interception ended in the first quarter when Pittsburgh's Dom DiCicco picked one off intended for WR Carlton Mitchell.
Grothe hadn't thrown an interception since late in USF's second game, at Central Florida on Sept. 6. His streak matched the fourth-longest in Bulls history and the longest since 2001, when Marquel Blackwell went a school-record 235 passes without one.
Grothe threw 14 interceptions in each of his first two seasons but has been much more careful as a junior. His interception Thursday was his only one of the game and his third in six games this season.
BOWLED OVER: USF used the Thursday night platform to host representatives from 11 bowls, including all the BCS ones and those affiliated with the Big East.
"It's fantastic," said Jack Seiler, chairman of the Orange Bowl bowl committee, before kickoff. "There's such an excitement around this program. They've arrived.
"You can say they're on the rise. But on the national scene, they've arrived."
USF athletic director Doug Woolard hosted the representatives at a reception Wednesday night, including a function at the Florida Aquarium in which a USF graduate was underwater in the aquarium's main tank answering questions from bowl officials.
The bowls in attendance included the St. Petersburg Bowl, which plays its first game Dec. 20 at Tropicana Field.
"I've been looking forward to meeting everyone," executive director Brett Dulaney said. "To lend an ear to people from bowls like the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl and share ideas has really helped us a lot."
BACK … A LITTLE: DE George Selvie, who missed Saturday's game against N.C. State with an ankle injury, saw limited action, making one tackle on his first series in the second quarter.
DT Terrell McClain, who also missed the N.C. State game, returned and forced a fumble by LeSean McCoy in the second quarter.
Selvie got a tackle for loss in the third quarter when a direct snap to McCoy sailed over his head. McCoy recovered the loose ball but was tackled by Selvie for an 18-yard loss.
THIS AND THAT: Junior Chris Robinson made his first career start at strongside linebacker as USF opened in a standard 4-3 defense. … Sophomores Craig Marshall and Sampson Genus started on the defensive line for the second game in a row in place of Selvie and McClain. … After totaling five sacks in their first five games, the Bulls sacked Bill Stull twice in the first five plays. … The announced attendance of 50,307 is the sixth-largest crowd in USF history.
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.