October reflections

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It’s the middle of October. It’s one of my favorite times of year — although the weather this year hasn’t exactly been typical for October. Most years, October is the time when temperatures begin to drop and we get those beautiful days and nights where the air is brisk and refreshing without being downright cold.

It’s also a great time of year to be a sports fan. College football and the NFL are in mid-season, and the major league baseball playoffs are in full swing. I’m happy to report that I spent some quality time in my recliner over the weekend staring at 55 inches of high-definition glory — watching the baseball playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, with a thoroughly entertaining NFL game on Sunday afternoon to break things up a little. Add in some thick, juicy New York strip steaks and baked potatoes, and it was a beautiful October weekend.

Of course, it was a tough weekend for my beloved Chicago Cubs. The Los Angeles Dodgers beat them in the first two games of the National League Championship Series. The Cubs had a chance to win both games — Game 1 was tied 2-2 after five innings and Game 3 was knotted at 1-1 after six. The Dodgers found a way to win them both. Sunday’s game was particularly painful as the Dodgers’ Justin Turner hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was clear as soon as the ball left the bat that it was headed over the center-field wall — my screams of “No! No! No!” notwithstanding.

The series heads back to Chicago for Game 3 on Tuesday night. Hopefully, the Cubs will figure out a way to bounce back and make it a competitive series. Still, as I told a friend over lunch on Monday, the Cubs have won 292 regular season-games and another 18 playoff games the last three years. If they wind up getting swept by the Dodgers, I have no reason to complain.

Closer to home, the Arkansas Razorbacks continued their downward spiral on Saturday with a 41-9 loss to top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa. That left the Razorbacks 2-4 this season, 0-3 in the SEC. The Hogs have lost their last six games against opponents from “Power 5” conferences, and coach Bret Bielema’s record at Arkansas has slid to 27-30. If that sounds mediocre, consider that those numbers include a 17-5 nonconference record. In SEC play, Bielema’s teams are 10-25.

When Bielema came to Arkansas, he promised that the Razorbacks would feature a power running game and a physical philosophy similar to that we’ve come to expect from the likes of Alabama and LSU. All that sounds great, if you can recruit the athletes to do it — and if you can help them improve once they’re on campus. At times, the Razorbacks have delivered on the offensive side. But more often than not, especially lately, they haven’t. And if you want to fashion yourself after Alabama and LSU, that means you have to play defense and special teams, too.

A lot of Arkansas fans will lay the blame at the feet of senior quarterback Austin Allen, but Allen is the least of this team’s problems. The big guys up front that are supposed to be Bielema’s pets haven’t done their job. The defense is inconsistent. The special teams are a nightmare. This is a bad football team.

Will Bielema be around next year? Probably. But don’t look for him in 2019.

Now, back to October. Has anyone seen the forecast for this weekend?

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com