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Big-game feel on the Brazos

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

WACO, Texas -- There's actually a big-game feel for a change at Floyd Casey Stadium as the Art Briles era kicks off at Baylor.

The Bears host No. 23 Wake Forest in a game that's about 90 minutes away from kickoff. It looks like most of Waco has decided to take a busman's holiday so they could arrive near the stadium early.

Even the nearby H-E-B Grocery closest to the stadium had a big-city bustle that is rarely seen in this city. And also some of the tastiest free hot links I've had in a long time.

Briles is hoping to turn around Baylor's recent struggles against ranked foes. The Bears have lost 12 straight games against ranked foes since beating No. 16 Texas A&M on Oct. 30, 2004. That 35-34 victory was settled on a gutsy two-point gamble by former coach Guy Morriss.

The Bears have also lost 38 of their last 40 games against ranked foes. The other victory came in Baylor's last game against an Atlantic Coast Conference foe, a 33-30 victory over North Carolina State on Sept. 19, 1998.

Wake Forest will be fighting a little negative karma as it approaches the game, too. The Demon Deacons are 0-11 in school history in games in Texas, including their most recent loss at Rice in 1990 (33-17). But maybe change could be present tonight. The Demon Deacons enter the game ranked at the start of the season for the first time in school history.

No announcement has been made about Baylor's starter, but there might be a sign in this little nugget. Baylor QB Kirby Freeman was the first player to start warmups on the field a few minutes ago.

Oh, and I'm also wondering if we might have a Tim Duncan appearance at the stadium, tonight. I didn't pass the former Wake Forest standout when I was driving up from San Antonio. I think I would have probably noticed his car if he was driving.