Oklahoma State turns sights to Texas A&M after exhausting win

Updated: October 20, 2003, 9:05 PM ET

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Antonio Smith took a 15-minute dip in an ice-cold whirlpool. Charlie Johnson's afternoon nap was a little longer than usual. Victor DeGrate tried to clear his mind after playing against perhaps the most confusing offensive scheme he'd ever seen.

Yes, Oklahoma State needed a little bit of time to unwind this weekend after outlasting Texas Tech 51-49 on Saturday in a game that lasted four hours and 20 minutes and featured 168 plays, 20 penalties and 1,333 total yards.

"Normally I don't have to do the cold whirlpool," said Smith, a defensive end. "I usually don't have to sleep that much, but after that game ... man, I needed it a lot."

He wasn't alone.

The Cowboys (6-1, 2-1 Big 12) put their homecoming crowd of 48,500 through an agonizing second half, almost blowing a 48-21 lead after getting outscored 28-3 by the Red Raiders in the fourth quarter.

With less than two minutes remaining, Texas Tech was just a few yards away from getting close enough for the go-ahead field goal.

That's when Smith sacked quarterback B.J. Symons for a loss of 15 yards, putting the Red Raiders in a third down-and-25 situation. On the next play, Jon Holland intercepted Symons to thwart the rally.

Amid the ensuing celebration, an almost-numb Smith had one feeling: "I was overwhelmed with relief."

The win kept No. 18 Oklahoma State a game behind top-ranked Oklahoma in the race for the Big 12 South title.

Should Oklahoma avoid an upset against Colorado and Oklahoma State manage to get past struggling Texas A&M on Saturday, that will make their Nov. 1 matchup in Norman the de facto division title game.

Not that you'll get any of the Cowboys to talk about that.

Head nods and nervous laughter greeted those asking about Oklahoma State's intrastate rivals at Monday's weekly media luncheon. The Cowboys are being cautious to not stoke the fires of a rivalry that should be plenty heated enough this year -- Oklahoma State has upset the heavily favored Sooners two straight years, after all.

"I don't think anybody's going to go to A&M and overlook them," coach Les Miles said. "I think our guys know what's at stake. I think they understand the importance of the next game."

Most other questions sought to relive the nerve-racking final moments of the Cowboys' win, the day-after down time or, less frequently, inquire about preparations for the A&M game.

Johnson, who caught a 4-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, spent a little time Sunday returning calls from relatives and friends who'd watched the game on television. Then, of course, he added on another hour to his afternoon nap.

"My body was a little more sore after this one," the 290-pound tight end said. "I needed some more nap time."

DeGrate, a freshman linebacker, tried to keep his head from spinning as he watched film of a Tech offense that rolled up 661 yards and 38 first downs. It's safe to say that DeGrate never saw an offense that complicated during his high school days in DeSoto, Texas.

"Sometimes it can get confusing out there," DeGrate said. "Your attention and intensity to detail can get lost because there's so many people running around out there." ^EXTRA POINTS: Miles and his family hosted a recruit for dinner after Saturday's game. Asked if the recruit liked spending time with his family, Miles quipped, "He liked the school a lot." ... There was lots of talk Monday about Oklahoma State's botched fake punt on fourth-and-4. The play gave Tech back the ball at is own 35-yard line with 2:08 left in the game. Miles wasn't apologizing for the call. "It was still a good call," Miles said. "It was an opportunity to win (the game) right there." ... The Cowboys' last trip to Kyle Field in College Station came 11 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. OSU lost to Texas A&M 21-7 that day -- Miles' third game as a head coach -- but that's obviously not what he remembers most. "They gave me a bulletproof vest to wear to pregame," he said. "I can't imagine anybody that played that day that didn't have some residual effect (from the attacks). It was a much different approach in that game." ... The Cowboys are ranked No. 18 in the nation, their highest spot in the poll since coming in at No. 12 in the seventh week of the 1997 season. ... By the way, with Saturday's win, OSU became bowl eligible for a second straight season. Should the Cowboys go to a bowl, it would be the school's first back-to-back bowl appearances since the 1987 Sun Bowl and the 1988 Holiday Bowl. ... A&M had won six straight games over OSU before last year's 28-23 loss in Stillwater. ... After rushing for a career-high 238 yards over Tech, Tatum Bell is the Big 12's leading rusher and fifth nationally with an average of 126.4 yards a game.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index