EVANSTON, IL - NOVEMBER 03:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leads his team onto the field prior to a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on November 3, 2018 in Evanston, Illinois.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly has been named the 2018 Associated Press college football Coach of the Year.

Kelly led Notre Dame to its first College Football Playoff appearance with a 12-0 regular season.

It marks the second time Kelly has won the award in his career; he also received the honor in 2012. He becomes just the third coach to win the award multiple times, joining Nick Saban (LSU and Alabama) and Gary Patterson (TCU).

Kelly recorded 81 points and received 16 of 58 first-place votes. Saban (66 points, 16 first-place votes) finished second, and UCF Knights coach Josh Heupel (33 points, five first-place votes) placed third.

Notre Dame ran the table while notching victories over four teams that were ranked at the time of their meetings (Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Syracuse). The Fighting Irish also defeated the Northwestern Wildcats, who appeared in the Big Ten Championship Game and ranked 22nd in the final College Football Playoff ranking.

Just two years ago, Notre Dame finished 4-8. However, Kelly has gotten the program back on track, leading the team to 10-plus victories in each of the last two seasons.

Kelly is 81-34 in nine years in South Bend.

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