For the second consecutive year, Connecticut failed to score an offensive touchdown against South Florida.
And for the second consecutive year, the Huskies didn't need one.
Tailback Lyle McCombs ran for 130 yards and Dave Teggart kicked three field goals as UConn (2-3, 1-1 Big East) beat USF (4-2, 0-2) 16-10 on Saturday.
Cornerback Byron Jones ran a third-quarter fumble back 10-yards for what turned out to be the winning score after defensive tackle Twyon Martin stripped South Florida running back Darrel Scott deep in UConn territory.
"It was just a big pile and the ball just flew out," said Jones. "From there, I didn't see anyone around me, so I just picked it up and scored."
The Bulls (4-2, 0-2 Big East) had several chances to score in the fourth quarter, but could not. They failed to convert on a fourth down with just under 2 ½ minutes left, and the Huskies (3-4, 1-1) ran out the clock. A 32-yard run from quarterback B.J. Daniels had given the Bulls the ball in UConn territory. But a fourth-down pass to Sterling Griffin was stopped four yards short of the first-down marker.
"What I liked was the look in the eyes of our guys is what I really liked," said UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni. "They were determined that they weren't going to let this get away from them."
Daniels threw for 164 yards and ran for 64 and a touchdown. But the South Florida quarterback also threw two interceptions and had a key fumble.
Connecticut won despite having just 253 yards of offense, and much of that came from McCombs, who carried the ball 30 times and recorded his fourth 100-yard game.
Teggart connected on field goals of 18, 46 and 28 yards.
"It's a little frustrating," said quarterback Johnny McEntee. "We want to get seven, but we can always count on Davey to get us three."
McEntee completed 13 of 23 passes for just 103 yards. The Bulls defensive line spent much of the afternoon in UConn's backfield, tying a school record with seven sacks. The Huskies had given up just 17 in their previous six games.
Daniels scored on the Bulls' first drive of the second half with a 22 yard scramble through the UConn defense, cutting left to leave linebacker Yawin Smallwood behind on his way to the end zone to give USF a 10-6 lead.
But Smallwood later made a key play, tipping a pass that Sio Moore intercepted to stop a fourth-quarter drive.
"Everybody was on the same page," Moore said. "We weren't getting complacent. We knew that they had the explosiveness to do anything at any point in time and it was about staying after it."
Offensive mistakes and good defense kept both teams out of the end zone in the first half.
USF defensive end Ryne Giddins had nine of his 11 tackles in the first half, to go along with two sacks, a forced fumble.
But the Bulls managed just 75 yards of offense and two turnovers before intermission.
"Outside of the opening drive of the game and the opening drive of the second half, offensively we couldn't put anything together consistently," said USF coach Skip Holtz.
The teams traded field goals in the first quarter. Maikon Bonani hit a 23-yarder to open the scoring, and Dave Teggart capped a 16-play drive on the next possession with an 18-yarder.
Teggart hit a short kickoff into a strong wind and Marcus Shaw returned the kick 79 yards to the UConn 8-yard line. But Daniels errant pitchout on a second-down option play was picked up by Conn's Dwayne Gratz.
UConn gave the ball back a few plays later when McCombs fumbled. But the Bulls failed to score, when a 46-yard field-goal attempt into the wind fell short. He also missed a 44-yarder in the third quarter that went wide left.
Teggart's second field goal came just before halftime, a 46-yarder that capped a 15-play drive and made it 6-3. His third field-goal, a 28-yarder, cut the lead to 10-9, less than a minute before Martin and Jones teamed up for UConn's defensive score. The Husky offense has now gone two consecutive games without a touchdown, and two consecutive seasons without scoring an offensive TD against the Bulls.
Teggart hit a 52-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in last year's regular-season finale sent UConn to the Fiesta Bowl with a 19-16 victory. He also hit a 42-yarder as time expired in 2009 to give the Huskies a 29-27 win.
"They doubted us last year," Teggart said. "But when we get toward October and November, there's something about playing in the colder weather and having games that mean more."
South Florida is now 1-4 at Rentschler Field.
Bulls coach Skip Holtz had not been back to Connecticut since coaching the Huskies from 1994-1998. UConn was still a Division I-AA program then, and Holtz led the school to the Division I-AA playoffs in 1998, the school's first postseason appearance.
The Huskies improved to 7-1 in Big East home openers.