EUGENE, Ore. -- In a season of surprises for the Ducks, perhaps nothing has been more unexpected than the emergence of quarterback Justin Herbert.The freshman, a local kid out of Eugenes Sheldon High School, is already setting school records and drawing comparisons -- however premature -- to former Duck Marcus Mariota. Even his quiet steadiness is similar to the Heisman winners.Hes calm and hes composed, Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown said. You know those people whove got it. Ive been around the game a long time and you just know hes got it. Hes got the `it.The Ducks, who just two seasons ago were playing in the national championship game, have fallen dramatically this season and are in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2004. Currently 3-5 overall and 1-4 in Pac-12 play, underdog Oregon visits USC on Saturday.Oregon was sunk by a five-game losing streak after opening the season with a pair of nonconference victories. It was the longest losing streak since a five-game slump in 1996.Because he didnt play in Oregons spring game and many fans hadnt seen him play, it was something of a surprise to those outside the program when Herbert was named graduate transfer Dakota Prukops backup following fall camp.Since then, hes supplanted Prukop as the starter in the past three games. His first opponent was daunting, then-No. 5 Washington, and it wasnt pretty: The Ducks lost 70-21.The next team up was California. Oregon lost 52-49 in double overtime, but Herbert threw for 258 yards and six touchdowns. He tripped up on the last play, throwing an interception and afterward vowed to learn from the experience.His six touchdowns tied the teams single game total -- a feat also achieved by Mariota.Herbert broke into the win column last weekend against Arizona State. Sure, the Sun Devils were decimated by injuries, but Herbert threw for 489 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-35 Oregon victory. His passing yardage tied the Oregon mark set by Bill Musgrave against BYU in 1989.Oregon quarterbacks coach David Yost said one of Herberts strengths is that he doesnt get rattled.What hes been able to do, in that Washington game he knew he didnt play perfect in that game but he didnt lose confidence in himself. He played in the Cal game, he didnt make the play at the end of the game, but he didnt lose confidence in himself. This game is just going to help build his confidence in himself, Yost said. Playing him when we did, I think it worked out right and I think in the long run it will be the best thing for him because he had a little time to ease into it and get a feel.Following the victory over the Sun Devils, the young 6-foot-6 QB was teased for his almost eerie calm. Perhaps it was freshman nerves, but he only briefly cracked a smile when asked if he was excited about the win.Winning that game meant a lot to me and the rest of the team, he said.About the most emotion he showed was when he was told about matching Musgraves yardage mark.I dont know as much about Bill Musgrave as I need to know, he quipped, laughing.It was reminiscent of those early postgame press conferences with Mariota, who was shy and clearly uncomfortable with the limelight. Mariota got more polished as his college career progressed, but remained unassuming.For comparisons sake, Mariota redshirted his freshman year. His first season, he started in the opener and led the team to a 12-1 record. That season he also turned heads against Arizona State, throwing for a touchdown, catching a TD pass and running for another score.Mariota, now with the NFLs Tennessee Titans, has explosive speed and an uncanny ability to improvise on the fly. Herbert, meanwhile, impressed Oregons coaches with his quick grasp of the playbook. Brown said Herbert is especially good at keeping plays alive.Coach Mark Helfrich, who discovered Mariota on a recruiting trip to Hawaii and urged then-coach Chip Kelly to offer him a scholarship on the spot, praises his new young quarterback for his poise and raw talent, while trying to keep perspective.Its not a one-man show, but that quarterback position is awfully important, Helfrich said. We cant anoint anybody at this point, but we like where hes going, we like where his head is, we like his demeanor.---More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org Cheap Celtics Jerseys . This should be celebrated because it will not always be this way. With the amount of money given to players by their clubs these days, it is a wonder that so many of those teams allow the sport to continue to take away many of their assets so they can play for a different team in the middle of their season. 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Stop waiting for beautiful basketball. If the USA mens team is going to win these Olympics, it will happen with defense, pure talent, and good old American superstars.Thats how the United States smacked Argentina 105-78 in the quarterfinals, breaking a three-game malaise that had felt like a car wreck about to happen. But the team got back on course behind 27 points from Kevin Durant and intense D from Paul George, advancing to play Spain in the semifinals Friday. Two more games for the gold.We got our swagger back, said George, who had three steals, 17 points and eight rebounds against Argentina.Just focus, man. Got our focus level up high, said Carmelo Anthony, who was cold from the three-point line early and finished with seven points in 13 minutes. The focus was always there, but you gotta turn it up another level. This is one and done for real. We gotta take this serious, not saying that we havent been taking it serious, but its time to lock in.For years, basketball purists have bemoaned the Americans flaws in international competition, from the isolation offense addiction to the rotating cast of Olympians. Watching the four win-or-go-home games Wednesday was a picture of this culture clash. Australia had 30 assists as it thumped Lithuania by 26. Serbia used a flurry of back-door buckets against Croatia to open up a lead and win by three. And then there was Spain, which dominated France 92-67.The epitome of Spains fluid passing game came when Pau Gasol caught an entry pass near the elbow, spotted a back-door cutter with his peripheral vision, and threw a back-to-the-basket pass for a layup. Gasol, the best player in Spains history, took seven shots and scored five points, ceding the spotlight to Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic, who dropped 23.ddddddddddddWe arent like the Lakers, Kobe Bryant, said Spanish coach Sergio Scariolo when asked about Gasols unselfish play, perhaps forgetting where Gasol won his two NBA championships. We can do it with our team.The U.S. struggled against France on Sunday, holding on to win by a nerve-wracking three points. Asked about the main difference between Spain and the U.S, French coach Vincent Collet cited their defensive systems, then added, Im not sure [USA] has the same chemistry with their team. I think thats why its interesting to see how both teams will do Friday.The only chemistry needed when Durant gets hot is a fire extinguisher. He scored 18 in the first half and sank 7 of 9 3-pointers for the game. There were more highlight plays in the U.S. game than the other three combined -- a Durant double crossover into a sidestepping fadeaway; a Kyrie Irving crossover-behind-the-back-crossover-floater, a DeMar DeRozan 360-degree breakaway slam.The U.S. players have been making these plays their whole lives. Scoring on your man is the culture of American basketball. Gasol and much of his team, meanwhile, have been playing together in the Spanish system since they were teens, creating easy baskets for one another.Team USA beat Spain in the last two Olympics by 11 and seven points. Anthony declined to comment on those games. This is a new year, a new day for us, he said. Were a different team than we was in 08 and 12.But still a squad of superstars, playing the same style. ' ' '