When the Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas Longhorns meet on the gridiron, there is no shortage of talent. Future NFL draft picks are all over the field. The 2010 BCS National Championship Game is proof of that, and perhaps no player shined brighter than defensive tackle Marcell Dareus that night.
If you didn’t know Dareus before the title game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, you did by the end of the first half. He knocked Longhorns star quarterback Colt McCoy out early and capped off a monstrous second quarter with a pick-six for the ages.
Not only did his interception and touchdown help seal Alabama’s championship, the 6-foot-3, 330-pounder also won game MVP honors.
Marcell Dareus Pick-Six vs. Texas
In college football, great teams find ways to win. That has been the specialty of Alabama head coach Nick Saban for years and it was especially true that season. The Crimson Tide had close calls all year, including against Virginia Tech, Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn, but they found a way to escape danger and took an undefeated record into the 2010 national championship.
Dareus was a small part of that success statistically. He played in all 14 games on the defensive line, primarily as a defensive end, but wasn’t the big star for that unit, by any means. Then, he introduced himself to the world on the biggest stage.
There’s no doubt Texas knew about his abilities, but what Dareus did at the end of the half made everyone’s jaws drop.
As the Longhorns were trying to put together a quick drive to end the first half, back-up quarterback Garrett Gilbert decided to throw a little shovel pass to running back D.J. Monroe. However, it bounced off his hands and Dareus picked it off. What happened next is every defensive lineman’s dream.
If knocking McCoy out of the game wasn’t already notable enough, Dareus intercepted the pass, gave a vicious stiff-arm to Gilbert, spun around an offensive lineman and took it to the house with three seconds left. Alabama led 24-6 at halftime and never looked back.
Dareus returned to Tuscaloosa the following season and earned First-Team All-SEC honors. He was the third overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, where he made two Pro Bowls and named First-Team All-Pro in 2014.
Marcell Dareus NFL
Unfortunately, after signing a massive six-year contract, violating the league’s substance-abuse policy got him suspended twice and ultimately traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he reunited with head coach Doug Marrone. He underwent core muscle surgery last season, went on injured reserve, and became a free agent this offseason.
Dareus, a Birmingham native and former Huffman High School star, has made a nice career as an elite pass rusher in the AFC over the years. However, perhaps none of that was possible for the former first round pick if not for that amazing national championship game performance.
This post was originally published on May 27, 2020.