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  • At long last, the NFL has released its 2015 schedule

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    A shade under five months before the season is to begin – 142 days, to be exact – the National Football League unveiled its 2015 schedule on Tuesday night. As with everything the Shield does these days, the release of the schedule came with much fan fare – in a three-hour primetime special opposite the NBA and NHL playoffs. While this fall’s opponents and venues have been known for months, Tuesday’s reveal filled in the “when” to the “who” and “where,” and, as per recent custom, the upcoming season will begin in Foxboro as the defending champion New England Patriots will kick off the season opposite the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Sept. 10.

    Week 1 concludes with the New York Giants at the Dallas Cowboys on NBC’s Sunday Night Football (the fourth time in five years Dallas and New York have met in Week 1) and with a Monday Night doubleheader featuring Philadelphia at Atlanta and Minnesota at San Francisco.

    Rather than a week-by-week parsing of a schedule no one can credibly predict, here’s a rough guess at the biggest games of weeks two through 17:

    Week 2: Seattle at Green Bay (NBC Sunday Night Football)
    Week 3: Kansas City at Green Bay – a rematch of Super Bowl I (Monday Night Football)
    Week 4: Baltimore at Pittsburgh (Thursday)
    Week 5: New England at Dallas (4:25 ET Sunday, CBS)
    Week 6: New England at Indianapolis (NBC Sunday Night Football)
    Week 7: Seattle at San Francisco (Thursday)
    Week 8: Seattle at Dallas (4:25 ET Sunday, CBS)
    Week 9: Philadelphia at Dallas (NBC Sunday Night Football)
    Week 10: New England at NY Giants (4:25 ET Sunday, CBS)
    Week 11: Denver at Chicago (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS)
    Week 12: New England at Denver (NBC Sunday Night Football)
    Week 13: Green Bay at Detroit (Thursday)
    Week 14: Dallas at Green Bay (4:25 ET Sunday, FOX)
    Week 15: Denver at Pittsburgh (4:25 ET Sunday, CBS)
    Week 16: Green Bay at Arizona (4:25 ET Sunday, FOX)
    Week 17: Seattle at Arizona (4:25 ET Sunday, FOX)

    See the full schedule here.

  • LSU is helping a family in need, and you can too

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    Tragedy struck in Baton Rouge, La., with the unexpected death of 29-year-old Mendel Esnault early Sunday morning. He leaves behind a girlfriend, two daughters and two younger brothers, plus his mother, Rita, who has battled cancer since 2013. Due to Rita’s ongoing fight, Esnault was his family sole provider, and now he is gone.

    One of his younger brothers happens to be Nick Broxsette, a Baton Rouge native who signed with LSU as a running back in February. In the hours since Esnault’s passing, the Baton Rouge and LSU communities have come together to help a family in need. A high school coach reached out to us and said, “I was with the family Sunday after (Esnault) passed. Les Miles is a stud. He was at the house from morning to night, personally packing boxes, loading trailers and sweeping floors helping us get the family moved.”

    LSU has established the Brossette Family Fund to cover essential living expenses, which is allowable under NCAA rules as long as all contributions go through the Tiger Athletic Foundation.

    LSU did not reach out to us and ask for us to promote them – trust us, they don’t need it. A high school coach close to Brossette and his family felt moved to ask us to spread the word and help a family in need, and the least we could do was oblige.

    Read more here.

  • Photos: North Dakota State’s four-peat championship rings are in

    North Dakota State crowned its fourth straight national champion in January, capping a four-year run in which the Bison went an unspeakable 58-3. In four straight seasons that stretched into January, North Dakota State’s outgoing senior class was a perfect 22-0 after Nov. 12.

    What we’re saying is, those seniors should get these rings permanently engraved onto their fingers.

    The Bison unveiled their latest rings on Tuesday. North Dakota State has won so much they literally ran out of room on the outside of the ring to display all their national championships, instead engraving all 12 of their national title-winning seasons on the inside.

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  • The #DailyDose: Who is the most underrated head coach heading into 2015?

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    Yesterday we started a new daily feature called the Daily Dose, in which the FootballScoop staff fires off with an individual opinion on one question per day.

    Today’s question: Who is the most underrated head coach in the country heading into 2015?

    Scott’s choice: Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald

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    As the owner of FootballScoop for about seven years now, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting many, if not most, all the head coaches across the country and there are plenty that I would be excited about sending my own kids to go play for, but one of the absolute best young guys in the profession is Coach Fitz at Northwestern.

    Fitz was thrust into the job at an early age and has done nothing but get better as a head coach, despite having to deal with certain political situations that come along with being the head coach at a place as academically prestigious as Northwestern. Fitz has done extremely well handling those unique situations, in addition to handling all of the on the field stuff that come with being a coach in the Big Ten.

    Fitzgerald is also universally respected by current and former players, teammates, and coaches he has coached with and against, which is increasingly rare in college football today. Being such a high academic institution, located in the heart of Big Ten country, Fitz has been a tremendous leader of Northwestern athletics and, in my opinion, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Pete Lembo as another coach who I also strongly consider underrated heading into 2015. Lembo is a tremendous teacher and mentor of young men, and I have no doubt he’ll be an outstanding head coach in the decades to come.

    Doug’s choice: Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill

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    Before Jerry Kill and his staff resurrected the Minnesota program, the Golden Gophers were a mere afterthought in the larger Big Ten picture. Now, just five years after taking over, Kill has led the program to back-to-back 8-5 seasons and three straight bowl games – and that’s only a small part of the reason I think he’s the most underrated coach in the country heading into 2015.

    The staff that Kill has put in place also played a large role in my selection of him. After missing (or being limited) to a few games the last few seasons as he battled health issues, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys stepped into the acting head coach role and the team never skipped a beat. Many of Kill’s assistants have been with him a decade or longer, and that doesn’t happen unless everyone is one the same page.

    As a head coach, you’re only as good as the men you surround yourself with, and Kill has surrounded himself with guys that his players believe in, that can coach alongside the best of them, and most importantly, all of them are also good people.

    Zach’s choice: Rice head coach David Bailiff

    I said it a week ago, but it bears repeating: David Bailiff is a coaching wizard. The man coaches at a private school in a pro sports town – and when Houston does turn its attention toward the college game, his Owls must stand in line behind the Big 12, the SEC and the Cougars across town. Rice is an outlier in its own conference, a small, private school in a league otherwise filled with large, public schools. Rice benefits from perhaps the most fertile recruiting soil in the country, but he must compete with 11 other in-state FBS programs plus cherry-pickers from the SEC and Big Ten. His stadium is also the wrong kind of historic.

    And yet, all the man does is win. Bailiff has led the Owls to three straight bowl games, a feat never before accomplished in school history. In fact, Rice had only posted one run of back-to-back bowl trips in school history before his current run, way back in 1960-61. Rice is 25-15 over the past three seasons with one Conference USA championship and two bowl victories. And it doesn’t hurt Bailiff is a well-respected, well-liked coach that runs a clean program off the field.

  • Video: This is what happens when the football team and engineering department team up

    When you’re at an Ivy League school, there are certain things that you have access to that it would be silly to not take advantage of.

    At Penn, one of those things is the engineering department, where they put things together like flying drones capable of capturing some unique video angles. So logically, when the football program decided to do a spring highlight, they paired up with the engineering department and the end result is something truly unique, and very well done overall – using about a hundred different camera angles (or at least it seems that way).

    Now while Penn certainly isn’t the first program to use drones to film practice, they do prove with this video that they may just do it better than anyone else.