Tyrone Crenshaw wanted the tradition, the sellout crowds and the pressure of playing football in the Big Ten Conference.
Crenshaw, a freshman running back from Sylmar High, is expected to start Saturday for Michigan State in a conference game at Wisconsin. The Spartans (4-2-1) are fifth in the Big Ten with a 2-1-1 record but still have Rose Bowl hopes.
Michigan State will face a Badger team that lost, 35-0, to Northwestern last week. The Spartans do not play Northwestern this season, but the Rose Bowl is still a possibility if they can win their remaining four games, and Northwestern (6-1, 4-0) and Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) stumble.
"I'm excited," said Crenshaw, who used his redshirt season last year and has carried only 11 times in '95. "It's hard to play under pressure. But that's what college football is all about."
Crenshaw, who rushed for 1,785 yards and 23 touchdowns at Sylmar two years ago, figures to play a big part in Michigan State's plans this week.
"[Running backs coach] Bobby Williams told me to be prepared mentally and physically, study my plays and be ready to go," Crenshaw said. "Tailback is a big factor in our offense."
Nobody will know until Saturday whether Crenshaw (5 feet 11, 176 pounds) is ready. The 19-year-old is being rushed into action because of the following:
* tailback Marc Renaud has a sprained knee.
* tailback Duane Goulbourne has a broken leg.
* fullback/tailback Scott Greene has a pulled hamstring.
But the coaches have more confidence in Crenshaw after he rushed three times for 50 yards last week in a 34-31 victory over Minnesota, including runs of 25 and 24 yards.
"I keyed off the left tackle's block on both plays," he said. "I might have broken one of them by going around the corner. . . . But I've got the possibility of starting this weekend."
Nebraska might be the only place where a 6-4, 230-pound tight end could get lost. The Cornhuskers have 85 players on scholarship, but 180 attend practice each day.
Former Montclair Prep player Dorrick Roy has become the forgotten tight end.
Roy, a redshirt freshman who is listed sixth on the Nebraska depth chart, has played sparingly this season and hasn't caught a pass for the defending national champions. Why? Because he has yet to memorize the playbook.
"It doesn't matter how good you are, you gotta know the system," Roy said. "At Montclair, we ran maybe eight different plays in a year. We run that many in a minute here."
Roy said he didn't take football seriously last year, mainly because he knew he would not play. He probably won't play Saturday, when the second-ranked Cornhuskers face No. 7 Colorado in a game that could determine the Big Eight Conference championship.
But Roy said he doesn't mind biding his time.
"I'll be catching the ball in the future," he said. "I just need to learn the plays. Next year will be the year for me."
Despite his limited contributions, Roy relished last year's national championship season.
He also believes the Cornhuskers, who are 7-0 and routed then-No. 8 Kansas State last week, are being slighted this season. Both national polls rank Florida State No. 1.
"We're defending champions and we're undefeated, and [the Seminoles] haven't really played anybody yet," Roy said.
"We've played a team in the top 10 and play another one this week. If we beat Colorado, we should be No. 1."
Receivers Carlos Baker (freshman from Burbank) and Deriek Charles (sophomore, Hart) have added life to the passing attack at Nevada Las Vegas.
Baker has 14 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown in four games.
Charles has 10 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in six games.
In volleyball, Arizona State junior setter Tracy Heflin (Agoura) averages 5.4 assists a game, but she increased that average to 11 in two matches last weekend after replacing injured starter Jolynn Faatulu. . . . Sophomore outside hitter Jessica Dinaberg (El Camino Real) leads California in kills (203), kills per game (2.9) and hitting percentage (.203). . . .
Junior middle blocker Kristine Butler (Oak Park) is second at New Mexico in blocks (49). Sophomore outside hitter Jenny Pavley (Agoura) is second in kills (173). Butler is third with 160. . . .
Arizona sophomore outside hitter Carolyn Penfield (Thousand Oaks) had 30 kills and seven assists in a two-match split with Washington and Washington State last week.
Irvine freshman forward Nicole Buccarelli (Grant) scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over Wyoming on Sunday. Irvine (12-0-2) is No. 14 in the latest Soccer America poll. Buccarelli leads the team in scoring with 20 points (nine goals, two assists).