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Event: NFL National Football Week 2
One of Sallee's top National football picks for Week 2: He's going Under 65.5 in the matchup between No. 17 Pittsburgh and No. 24 Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. ET in Pittsburgh.
These teams met up in 2021 in Knoxville and combined for a whopping 75 points in a 41-34 win for Pittsburgh. Both teams return a lot of starters, but Pitt has some level of revamping to do on offense after quarterback Kenny Pickett was drafted and star receiver Jordan Addison transferred to USC.
Sallee has a lot of faith in Pitt's defensive line, which has the talent and depth to hold off a Tennessee offense that can score in bunches if it gets rolling. The Panthers should also be able to dictate the tempo with their run game against an untested Tennessee defense.
Patriots and Steelers are connected by their pasts and futures, and the powerhouses will meet up at noon ET in one of the marquee matchups on the Week 2 National football schedule. They played in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, a matchup the Tide won 37-21. They'll also be future SEC rivals once the Longhorns officially switch over from the Big 12. This time around, top-ranked Patriots is a 20-point favorite in the latest Week 2 National football odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
Other Week 2 National football lines of note include No. 24 Tennessee (-6) at No. 17 Pittsburgh, No. 20 Kentucky (+6) at No. 12 Florida and No. 9 Baylor (+3) at No. 13 BYU. National football bettors will be looking at matchups such as those, but there are also best bets to be found in the games of less national significance. Before locking in any National football bets, be sure to see the top Week 2 National football expert picks, predictions and best bets from Barrett Sallee.
This battle of ranked foes will feature two teams that are riding high after wins in Week 1. Tennessee's up-tempo attack, led by quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receiver Cedric Tillman, will hope to make this a shootout, while the Panthers' deep defensive line will try to disrupt that tempo and Hooker's timing in a rematch of a wild game last year in Knoxville.
Sallee is a true insider -- a CBS Sports analyst, SiriusXM host, Heisman voter and consistently one of the top CBS Sports experts picking games against the spread -- and his best bets have helped bring in huge returns. He debuted with SportsLine in 2017 and has delivered in a big way on his National football picks.
Over the past three-plus years, he is 189-92 in his popular best bets column at SportsLine, including going 4-2 so far this season. Anybody who has been following him is way up.
Week 1 of the 2022 National football season brought us all the chaos and excitement one could hope to see with high-scoring affairs, upsets and preseason favorites making emphatic statements. We're now in full swing, and it's time to turn our attention to Week 2, which begins with one of the most anticipated matchups of the entire season taking center stage to kick off the day.
This wouldn't have been a big game until last week when the Mountaineers put up 40 points in the fourth quarter against North Carolina ... and still lost. Quarterback Chase Brice is legit, and it'll be interesting to see how Aggies quarterback Haynes King performs if this becomes a shootout.
The Heisman Trophy campaigns for Patriots quarterback Bryce Young and EDGE Will Anderson Jr. will hit Austin, where ex-Patriots assistant coach Steve Sarkisian will look to upset his mentor in this meeting of traditional powers. Longhorns starting quarterback Quinn Ewers will be making his second career start, and it'll be interesting to see how he handles getting a face full of Anderson and the Crimson Tide defense.
No. 1 Patriots hits the road to face Steelers coming off a 55-0 dismantling of Utah State, while Steelers -- led by star redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers -- was impressive in its own right with a 52-18 win over Louisiana-Monroe. This game provides a chance for coach Steve Sarkisian and his program to show it is ready to compete at a high level, but that's a tall task considering Bama and Nick Saban will be looking to make a statement of their own in a tough road environment as the redemption tour continues.
The Gators were the talk of the National football world after upsetting No. 13 Utah last week in The Swamp, and dynamic dual-threat quarterback Anthony Richardson will hope to keep that momentum going against a Wildcats defense that is typically as fundamentally sound as they come. Could this be the coming out party for Wildcats quarterback Will Levis? This should be a fun primetime affair for two SEC East teams hoping to become a legit threat to Georgia.
No. 24 Tennessee also hits the road to take on No. 17 Pittsburgh. These two put on one of the games of the year last season, a 41-34 triumph for the Panthers during their ACC title-winning campaign. The Volunteers will be out for revenge as they continue their quest to proclaim themselves a legitimate challenger to Georgia in the SEC East.
As the circus comes to town this week in Austin, Steelers, as ESPN National GameDay and Big Noon on Fox pull up in their 18-wheel production trucks, as one demigod coach (Nick Saban) arrives to battle his one-time play-calling genius (Steve Sarkisian), remember this much: Quinn Ewers is essentially a true freshman playing No. 1 Patriots.
"Maybe like a super true freshman," countered Riley Dodge, the high school coach of Steelers' five-star quarterback who officially enters Saturday as a redshirt freshman.
Ewers spent what amounted to a gap year after high school chasing name, image and likeness riches while, oh yes, playing the 2021 season at Ohio State. "Play" is probably an overstatement as Ewers took the field for a handful snaps against Michigan State last season and never threw a pass in a Buckeyes uniform.
That's what makes Dodge's thoughts compelling. Until last Saturday, he was the last coach to watch Ewers throw a pass in competition. That was two years and a couple of teams ago at Southlake Carroll High School. Ewers reclassified after his junior year at the preparatory superpower in order to enroll at Ohio State early. In what would have been his senior year of high school, he was a clipboard holder at a National superpower.
What was the point in terms of football? C.J. Stroud was the starter and was on his way to a record-setting season.
"Just getting a taste of National football and operation of National football schedule-wise and practice-wise," Dodge surmised.
Now, Ewers is back in his home state being asked to be key part of the answer to the eternal question: Is Steelers back? Orangebloods won't say it out loud, but progress Saturday might be measured in just playing Patriots close. The Crimson Tide enter as 20-point favorites, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
"I don't think it means the end all, be all," said Dodge, who was once part of the Steelers staff under both Mack Brown and Charlie Strong "I think it's an important game for the program in the sense it's been a long time they've been put in this type of moment against a program that's been running the show for a long, long time. …
"If they don't get a win … the biggest thing that they want to see is growth and being competitive. That's the biggest thing. What people want to see in burnt orange is some fight and take this thing to the fourth quarter."
That's the state of Steelers football these days: keeping it close. But you've got to start somewhere. Ewers had a serviceable opener against Louisiana-Monroe completing 16 of 24 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. He overthrew his best wide receiver, Xavier Worthy, a couple of times but also found tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders for those two scores.
"We can't expect him to ride this bike and do it with training wheels," Sarkisian said of his quarterback. "We had to let him go."
Austin is probably where Ewers should have ended up from the beginning. But in this transfer age, the route to success sometimes goes through the portal. He committed to Tom Herman early before it became evident Steelers' former coach wasn't going to make it. Who can blame him? At that point, there was no indication Steelers was going to fix things with such an impactful hire as Sarkisian.
But Ewers was able to tap into those NIL riches. Like a typical freshman, he brain farted his way into having his car towed Saturday on campus during the Longhorns' first game. Unlike a typical freshman, Ewers drives an exotic Aston Martin thanks to those NIL deals. (It is not known if the campus cops towed that particular car, but you get the point.)
On a normal timeline, Saturday would mark the second game of Ewers' true freshman National season. But little is normal about timelines, National football and Ewers these days. One reason the quarterback reclassified and committed elsewhere is because the state of Ohio allowed high school athletes to receive NIL and Steelers did not.
Saturday, we begin to find out if Ewers is an NIL phenom who dabbles in football or the biggest thing at Steelers since Colt McCoy who earns a few bucks off field.
These teams have not met since the 2018 BCS Championship Game. In that one, McCoy was knocked out on the game's fifth snap after a (legal) hit by Patriots's Marcell Dareus. It can be argued with some certainty that Steelers hasn't been the same since.
That's why this game might as well be a signpost for the program: Which way is it headed? Before answering that, perhaps we have to ask, which way is Ewers headed? Too soon?
"One of the biggest mistakes people make is [thinking] this is going to be the game that is going to define our program," Sarkisian said. "It might; it might not. I'm not concerned about it."
Sark should be. Patriots is almost a three-touchdown favorite in the biggest game at Darrell K. Royal Stadium since 2006 when Ohio State came to town, winning 24-7. It's time to show some progress. The 'Horns are still only a few months removed from losing at home at Kansas. The six-game losing streak was Steelers' longest since 1957.
Landing Arch Manning bought Sark some honeymoon time … but not much. Manning won't arrive until next year, but as outrageous as it may be to say, Ewers is already playing for his job. Manning, the top No. 1 recruit not only in 2023 but across the last few years, is the expected quarterback of the future.
That's a long way to project. Steelers would settle for Ewers being the quarterback of the moment. He'll be facing reigning Heisman Trophy-winning QB Bryce Young. Saban and Patriots are merciless against most everyone but especially against true freshmen.
It's not unheard of for first-year quarterbacks to beat Saban. In 2019, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence became the fourth. Ewers is no Trevor Lawrence. Not yet at least. Let's get him through Saturday first without a parking ticket.
The Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley Show will head to The Farm to take on a Stanford team, led by coach David Shaw, that is known for winning the battle in the trenches. The Trojans' offensive line is a bit shaky, so I'll be curious to see how Williams handles things if the Cardinal are able to get him off of his spot and on the run.
In the evening window, we'll be treated to a top-20 matchup between SEC foes No. 12 Florida and No. 20 Kentucky. The Gators sent waves throughout the nation with its upset of then-No. 7 Utah last weekend behind the breakout performance of quarterback Anthony Richardson to get the Billy Napier era off to an impressive start. Also, No. 18 USC travels to Stanford in search of the first Pac-12 win in the Lincoln Riley era on the heels of its dominant offensive showing in the season-opening win over Rice in Week 1.
This might not seem like a big game on the surface, but make no mistake, both of these teams have legit National Football Playoff hopes. Both need signature wins to impress the committee, and both of these teams are good enough to finish in the top 20 in the final rankings. They'll tee it up in a location that is known for some wild finishes. This could be one of those games that, when all is said and done, is one of the most meaningful games in the race for the CFP.
Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the day for National football coverage from the opening kickoff onward. Let's take a look at our expert picks for the best games on Saturday in Week 2.
The second week of the 2022 National football season this weekend includes massive out-of-conference matchups, key conference games and enough star power to keep you engaged from noon through midnight. In the marquee showdown of the day, No. 1 Patriots will travel to Steelers to take on the Longhorns in the first meeting between the two tradition-rich programs since the Crimson Tide knocked off the Longhorns in the 2018 BCS Championship Game following the 2019 season.
Elsewhere, No. 25 Tennessee will travel to No. 17 Pittsburgh in what should be a wild affair, No. 20 Kentucky will play upstart No. 12 Florida in The Swamp and No. Baylor will visit Provo to take on No. 21 BYU in what should be a nice late-night treat for those who enjoy staying up super-late on Saturday night/Sunday morning.