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Game Balls for the Pac-12 Championship

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NCAA Football: Pac-12 Conference Championship-Utah vs Washington Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Offense - Jaylen Dixon

My honest opinion? No one should get a game ball on the offensive side after a dreadful performance. But I guess when I really look at it, Dixon’s performance was a bright spot for an otherwise abysmal offense. Dixon is good, very good. And the freshman is just going to keep getting better. Dixon was the leading yard-getter for the offense with 68 receiving yards in 7 catches. It wasn’t a spectacular stat line but Dixon’s 68 yards was 44 more yards than the next leading receiver. The good news for Ute fans is that Utah will be returning Dixon along with Covey, Nacua and Simpkins next season.

Defense - Corrion Ballard

While the offense did terribly, the defense had one of their best performances of the season which made it very difficult to pick a single player to give a game ball to. Chase Hansen, Cody Barton, Julian Blackmon and Bradlee Anae all had big games for the Utes, but it was Corrion Ballard who made the biggest impact in my mind. Coming from his safety position, Ballard tallied 12 total tackles, nine of which were solo takedowns including one tackle for a loss. Ballard also had an impact in the passing game with a pass deflection. Playing on a unit that is loaded with NFL talent and ranks as one of the top defenses, it was Ballard who played ‘just that much better’ earning him the game ball for the Pac-12 Championship.

Special Teams - John Penisini

Penisini made the play of the game for the Utes when he pushed his way through the Washington field goal protection to get a hand on the ball, blocking a Peyton Henry field goal attempt by the Huskies. The blocked field goal was huge for the Utes as a make would have given the Huskies a two-possession lead with five minutes to go, and with Utah’s failure to move the ball down the field a two-possession lead would have been extremely difficult to overcome. So while Penisini’s blocked field goal didn’t have any impact on the outcome of the game, it did give Utah a little bit of hope as it began its comeback bid against the Huskies before falling short.