For the first time in years, USC will need a comeback led by their Olympic Sports to claim Gauntlet domination over UCLA. The Trojans have owned the Crosstown Rivalry for the last five seasons, but trailed 45-37.5 heading into a grueling stretch of competition.
USC entered Thursday’s match already owning at least a share of the conference crown, but the resounding victory over No. 7 UCLA iced a perfect Pac-12 finish for the Trojans, who have won 13 straight matches closing the regular season with a 21-2 overall record. The victory also marked USC’s first back-to-back wins over UCLA since the 2006 season.
The victory not only clinched the Pac-12 for USC, but also added 2.5 more points to the gauntlet. Unfortunately, the four-time defending men’s tennis champions lost their final tilt in Pac-12 play to the pesky UCLA Bruins, allowing them to retain the lead in the gauntlet.
The UCLA Bruins 4-3 narrow victory puts USC in second place in the 2013 Pac-12 standings, and the Trojans end the regular season with a 1-2 record versus UCLA (0-1 in Pac-12 play) so the Trojans will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament in Ojai, Calif.
Later that Friday afternoon, the women’s water polo squad defeated UCLA 11-6, coming out with a strong performance following their first loss of the season to Stanford. Thanks to this epic road victory, the Trojans have cut the Gauntlet lead in half.
Three major sports have yet to settle the score in the all-important Gauntlet to finish off the spring season of action. First and foremost, 10 vital points will be on the line in the track and field duel meet which takes place on April 27th from the friendly confines of Loker Stadium.
Next, the USC Men’s Baseball team will look to salvage another losing season with a series victory over UCLA, after falling 6-1 on March 10th in a non-conference tilt from Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Trojans will get their chance in the last home series of the season in early May.
Over on the links, men’s golf will square in the Pac-12 championships from the Los Angeles Country Club, a tournament hosted by UCLA starting next Monday. The women’s golf team meanwhile will bring their top-ten ranking to Valencia Country Club to take down the host squad UCLA starting tomorrow in the Pac-12 championships.
In the final matchup of the Gauntlet, the annual rivalry by the sea will return as women’s rowing takes on UCLA rowing from Marina Del Rey. This heated matchup features to top-ranked Trojans and their stiffest competitor in fifth-ranked UCLA, in an always intense race down the channel.
Although USC lost to UCLA in football, arguably the most important game of them all, the Trojans rise in Olympic success has propelled the five-year streak in the Gauntlet. USC turned the tables on UCLA splitting basketball, while also earning points in women’s tennis and swimming.
With the spring season coming to a close, fans must embrace the championship pedigree both schools have to offer in another exciting edition of the Cross-Town Gauntlet.