Sep 18, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly leaves the field after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers at Notre Dame Stadium. The win was his 105th as Notre Dame coach and tied Kelly for most wins at Notre Dame with Knute Rockne. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

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Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly downplays tying Knute Rockne record

No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 18 Wisconsin will square off in a top 20 matchup Saturday in Chicago, and while it’s a crucial game for both teams, it also could be a record-setting one for Irish coach Brian Kelly.

With Notre Dame’s 27-13 win this weekend over Purdue, Kelly won his 105th game at the school, tying the legendary Knute Rockne for the most in program history.

Kelly will be going for his record 106th on Saturday at Soldier Field, and he insisted after Saturday’s game that achieving such a record is more than a team effort.

“It requires consistency to get to these marks,” said Kelly, who turns 60 next month. “We have it with our leadership, we have it with our athletic director and we’ve had it in the coaching because we have alignment. That’s helped a lot in being consistent and winning football games.”

Notre Dame hired Kelly before the 2010 season and he has tallied a 105-39 record with the Irish. He’s led them to 10 bowl games in 11 seasons, including the semifinals of the College Football Playoff twice and one BCS national championship game — all losses.

Before landing at Notre Dame, he coached Central Michigan for four seasons and Cincinnati for four. His overall record is 158-61.

Rockne guided Notre Dame to a 105-12-5 record from 1918-30. In an era where bowl games were sparse, he took the Irish to just one bowl game — the 1924 Rose Bowl, which they won 27-10 over Stanford. But Notre Dame won three national championships in his era: 1924, 1929 and 1930.

“It doesn’t mean anything else relative to comparisons or who’s better,” Kelly said earlier this week, before tying Rockne. “Those things really don’t mean much to me. I came here to do a job, and that was to bring Notre Dame back to its winning traditions. We’ve gotten there by being consistent and having stability. That’s what (105 wins) means more than anything else to me.”

Rockne died in a plane crash in Kansas on March 31, 1931, at age 43.

–Field Level Media

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