The previously unbeaten Bulls faced a 21-7 halftime deficit, but stormed back to take the lead with 5:57 remaining when Matt Grothe hit Jessie Hester with a 22-yard scoring throw.
Pittsburgh needed only three plays to regain the advantage. The Panthers returned the ensuing kickoff to its own 40, and then got a 38-yard throw from Bill Stull to Oderick Turner, a 19-yard run by McCoy and the 3-yard touchdown plunge. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
South Florida failed to move the ball after the kickoff and punted it away with 3:28 to play. The Bulls got it back with only 22 seconds left and advanced only to the Pittsburgh 49.
South Florida fell to 5-1 and is 0-1 in Big East Conference play. Pittsburgh improved to 4-2 and 2-0.
The Bulls' setback left 16 unbeaten teams in major college football -- five of them in the Big 12 Conference.