STILLWATER, Okla. -- The proclamation about to be made in this space would be so much easier if not for a raucous spring break last year in Destin, Florida.

Twenty-two college football players -- split just about equally between athletes from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State -- shared a spring break house in 2016 near Destin's white sand beaches.

"Ever been to the Whale's Tail?," Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph said of the popular Gulf-side watering hole.

No, but we get an idea of the revelry. How many beach bars have their own round-the-clock streaming site?

"Me and Baker Mayfield were on that trip," Rudolph continued. "It makes the rivalry even that much better. You're hanging out with these guys in Destin. It makes the trash talkin' that much better."

First, you have to be comfortable with blood rivals sharing space, beers, taunts and selfies -- which many aren't.  

"People say it takes away from the rivalry when they see pictures from the trip," Rudolph said. "I think it enhances the rivalry. We hate those guys that much more."

The bleep-talkin' is what makes the Bedlam series special. It's also what makes the following -- for some -- so hard to swallow:

Forget a Heisman finalist and back-to-back conference titles residing down the road, Oklahoma State just might have the best offense in the country.

In this age, this place and this conference, that's a hell of a place to start transitioning from the sand to the spread.

We're coming off the highest-scoring season in history. Oklahoma State plays in the highest-scoring league.

"It's like an arms race during every game," Rudolph said.

Rudolph will have  to be the one to lead OSU to the top of the Big 12 again. USATSI

Oklahoma State is entirely comfortable in its own skin, riding an outspoken (and, he says, underappreciated) head coach and a next-big-thing offensive coordinator.

Pistols firing? Bring it on for an offense that was outscored by only nine other Power Five teams last year.

Oklahoma can have its Heisman finalist (Mayfield). It, however, doesn't have high-powered tailbacks Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon anymore.

For that matter, national champion Clemson lost the guts of its offense that scored the most Power Five touchdowns in the country (78).

Last season, the Cowboys were one of two Power Five offenses to have a 4,000-yard passer (Rudolph), a 1,000-yard rusher (Justice Hill) and a 1,000-yard receiver (James Washington).

Mike Gundy opens the season with Rudolph at the helm, the No. 3 returning career passer in the country and No. 2 at Oklahoma State with more than 8,700 yards.

"We had a little come-to-Jesus offensive meeting the other day," Rudolph said during the early spring. "The offensive coordinator said, 'Guys, on paper, we can be as good as we want to be, but we have to do it.' "

The standard, then, has been set coming off Oklahoma's fifth double-digit win season in the last seven. Seven-two percent of the Cowboys receiving yardage returns. Rudolph-to-Washington might be the most lethal passing combination in the country.

Resilient slot receiver Jalen McCleskey led the team with 73 catches. Trusty possession receiver Marcel Ateman returns from an injury. They're really excited about former five-star LSU transfer Tyron Johnson.

"If there is a better receiving corps in the country, I'd like to see them," said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.

Washington -- from tiny Stamford, Texas -- leads the nation in returning Power Five receiving yards, and coyote pelts.

"He's a big hunter," Rudolph said, "coyotes, varmints. He'll post pictures of these bloody coyotes on Instagram. Bro, the fan base doesn't want to see a bloody coyote on your page."

Hill was a freshman All-American leading all college rookies with 1,142 rushing yards.

Rudolph and Washington could be the most lethal duo in college football this year. USATSI

There were three wins over top 25 programs including Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. Five of the last seven seasons have ended in double-digit wins. Since 2010, only Alabama, Florida State, Clemson, Stanford, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin have more wins.

All of it added up to only the Big 12's third-best scoring offense and fourth-best total offense. But that's all relative in the scoreboard-busting league. Oklahoma State returns the guts of an O that scored more than 111 teams last year.

Daring to suggest this is the nation's best offense in 2017 isn't such a hot take.

"It's been talked about," Washington said.

"We feel like it's our turn," Rudolph said. "It's our year."

Fine, but is it the Cowboys' state? OU may have changed coaches but it will still be favored in the Big 12.

"When they used to box Ali, he's going to be the favorite until somebody beats him," Gundy said. "When Mike Tyson is in his prime, he's going to be the favorite until someone beats him."

Having the most devastating punch in this offensive age still means something.

Judge for yourself whether finishing among the offensive elite matters. Only four Power Five programs (Texas Tech, Baylor, Oregon and Oklahoma) have led the country in either scoring or total offense (or both) in the last 10 years.

Oregon (2010) and Oklahoma (2008) rode those No. 1 scoring offenses to BCS title games. Baylor (2013, 2014) and Hawaii (2007) played in what are now known as New Year's Six bowls.

Only one statistical champ in those 10 years (Texas Tech, 2016, total offense) finished with a losing record.

The last No. 1 scoring offense to win a national championship was Texas in 2005. That's also the Big 12's last title. What Gundy wouldn't do just to have a shot …

"Oklahoma State's just not a big name," he said.

Not exactly, but being in the same state as OU has its disadvantages. Even with all those wins and all those bowls, Oklahoma has been a little bit better. Sometimes a whole lot better.

This season could be the most epic in Bedlam history. The teams could play twice with the Big 12 restarting its conference championship game.

"It would be great. I think it's a strong possibility," Rudolph said.

Still, the two biggest pieces of news to come out of here in the offseason might be Gundy's snake hunt and a wrestling hype video.

"If I do more singlet stuff and rattlesnake stuff, my market value goes up," the coach said.

When it is suggested Gundy would be great on that coaches' in-studio breakdown of the College Football Playoff championship game, he demurs.

"The reason I don't get calls on that is because I'm not as big a name," Gundy said. "They brought a guy in this year who was moderately successful. I don't care but that's what it is."

Let's stop the poor mouthing. Gundy recently got a healthy raise and extension. His offensive coordinator is no longer considered a risk coming out of Division III. Yurcich is an accomplished OC.

In three of his four seasons here, the former Shippensburg (Pa.) University OC has produced top 10 offenses. Last year, Yurcich was nominated for the Broyles Award, assistant coach of the year.

"It never seems like it's enough [points]," said Yurcich of the Big 12. "It's the nature of the beast. It's a way of life here. What's different is [how hard it is] to get your backups in the game.

"You never feel like you're up enough."

Rudolph might have the most swagger of any Oklahoma State quarterback since his head coach, who forever will be the Big Eight's career passing leader.

It's been easy for the Rock Hill, South Carolina, product to be overshadowed in the Big 12. Rudolph is a quiet 22-6 as a starter. Last season, he threw for the second-most yards in the conference (4,091) behind Tech's Patrick Mahomes who just happened to be the No. 2 quarterback taken in the NFL Draft.

"He's almost like a Pete Rose in baseball," Gundy said. "He doesn't do anything real flashy but he ended up hitting .342. He's Moneyball. He's just not as flashy as what a lot of people would like."

Rudolph was good enough to get a couple of high draft grades, but there is something to be said for just being a solid college player.

"I have a soft spot in my heart for him," Gundy said of North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, who went No. 2 overall after only 13 college starts. "He's not ready for the NFL.

"Most kids aren't. Talk about James Washington. He's a fabulous college receiver. He's not ready for the NFL. He's not ready for Aqib Talib to walk up and smack him in the face."

So much so that it's hard for Rudolph to roust Washington out of his apartment for a night out on the town.

"We're always trying to beg him to come out," the quarterback said. "He's always with his girlfriend at home. It's like, 'Hey, come out with the guys.'"

The pair have the team's respect. Washington was the Alamo Bowl offensive player of the game despite a hand injury that knocked him out after three quarters. Rudolph played two years ago with broken foot.

The pair have a familiarity on the field where Rudolph estimates he attempts up to 50 back-shoulder throws to his favorite target each practice session.

"There's a lot of people, they call it the 50-50 ball against Cover 1 or press," Rudolph said. "I tell people it's a 75-25 ball with James."

The school's publicity arm has no problems comparing all of this to some of the most historic Cowboys offenses.

  • In 1988, Barry Sanders won the Heisman while playing with Gundy, who finished as the Big Eight's career passing leader.
  • In 2008, All-Americans (Dez Bryant, receiver) and (Kendall Hunter, tailback) played with eventual first-round picks, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and left tackle Russell Okung on a team that averaged almost 500 yards per game.  
  • Three years later, the Cowboys finished .0086 of a point out of the second BCS spot. The Brandon Weeden-to-Justin Blackmon combination was one of the best in the nation.
  • In 2012, Oklahoma State averaged a school-record 547 yards per game.
  • Last season, Rudolph became the second OSU quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards. Washington was the only player in the country with three catches of at least 80 yards.

"He's able to stand in there and deliver the ball in the last second without flinching," Yurcich said. "Those are the million-dollar throws."

Who knows if any of it compares to Dollar Beer Night at the Whale's Tail. The spring break was organized by former Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight and Cowboys' receiver Austin Hays.

Rudolph and Mayfield became buds.

"He's a fiery dude," Rudolph said. "I think he's always had that chip on his shoulder. He walked on at OU and Texas Tech. We stay in contact. He's got a girlfriend now. He's not as wild as the old days."

Or even last spring when Mayfield was caught on tape trying to evade cops in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

"I told him," Rudolph said. "'You go our of your kingdom, they're going to come after you … It's not Norman, brother.'"

This is the best offense in the country, though. If it can just get past Oklahoma.