It could be argued neither Hoffman nor Nelson would have been able to pull off their heroics had Van Noy not carried the hammer of Thor Friday in Ford Stadium.
Van Noy has turned into something special for Mendenhall.
On BYU's sidelines, Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Chris Hoke stood during the game. Fresh off neck surgery, Hoke made the trip on his way to Cleveland for Sunday's Steelers finale.
"I told Kyle in the first quarter, if you want to be on SportsCenter, go make some plays. He did," said Hoke.
"There were a lot of MVPs out there today," said Hoke. But his choice was obvious because he is a defensive guy.
"Kyle Van Noy made plays all game long. He had sacks, he had tackles for losses, and on every key BYU defensive play, it seemed like he was in the middle of it. He has my vote."
Former NFL all-pro tight end Chad Lewis picked Hoffman, as he was given the trophy. "No question, it's Cody."
Debate aside, Friday's game was a Mendenhall-type game. It was a defensive battle. It was gritty. It required guts and endurance, teamwork and putting everything on the line. Mendenhall told reporters his team was hungry in the end and made plays it had to because the players were prepared and wanted it and refused to lose.
It was the kind of game Mendenhall likes to hang his cap on any year, any time, any place, in any league or as an independent. He left Dallas with his fifth 10-win season in six years.
Mendenhall created many, including Reynolds, whose helmet-less pancake block led ESPN's Andre Ware to say he, indeed, was the game's most valuable player.
In the end, it all mattered.
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