MADISON, Wis. Chris Borland is scanning his memory bank, trying to recall the last time he's been a part of a three-game losing streak as a football player.
Borland, Wisconsin's middle linebacker, pauses a beat before settling on an answer.
"I've never lost three games in a row," Borland said. "I lost three games in all of high school."
The idea, then, that perennial power Wisconsin stands on the precipice of a three-game losing skid after vying for a national championship game spot just two weeks earlier is almost unheard of to Borland.
The Badgers haven't endured a three-game losing streak since 2008. And they aim to keep it that way when Wisconsin (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten) plays host to Purdue (4-4, 2-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Borland and his teammates insist they're locked into urgency mode this week following two heartbreaking losses. Just not emergency mode.
"We're not freaking out," Badgers defensive end Brendan Kelly said. "You always stay positive. If you hang your head and look at the past and stay down on it, you're not going to see what's in front of you. We have four opportunities the next four weeks. We're going to take this week and focus on Purdue. That's all we can control."
On Oct. 22, Wisconsin entered its game against Michigan State undefeated and ranked No. 4 in the country. But a last-second Hail Mary touchdown from the Spartans killed the Badgers' national title dream. One week later against Ohio State, another last-minute touchdown heave buried the Badgers into the middle of the Big Ten pack in the newly formed Leaders Division.
On Saturday, Wisconsin will attempt to dig its way out as the conference schedule finally relents. The Badgers' next three games come against Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois none of which currently hold a winning record in conference play before the regular-season finale against Penn State on Nov. 26.
Saturday's game takes on more significance because Purdue and Wisconsin both enter with 2-2 records in the Leaders Division. Ohio State also stands 2-2, while Penn State leads the division at 5-0.
If the Badgers are to have any shot at qualifying for the first-ever Big Ten championship game, they'll need to win out and receive plenty of help to get there.
"If you look at the record, yeah, this game is very important," Wisconsin running back Montee Ball said. "We have to start fast or else we're going to hurt ourselves."
Purdue's offense is different from others in the conference because it relies heavily on a two-quarterback system that features both Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve.
During a 36-14 loss against Michigan a week ago, TerBush completed 9 of 13 passes for 156 yards with a touchdown, while Marve completed 8 of 14 passes for 66 yards with a touchdown.
TerBush, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound junior, has demonstrated a greater likelihood for tucking the ball and running. He gained 38 yards rushing on three carries last week. He is the third-leading rusher on the team with 180 yards rushing and a touchdown this season.
"TerBush is a bigger dude," Badgers defensive tackle Ethan Hemer said. "We have to take that into consideration. He's deceivingly fast. We're definitely not going to underestimate him."
TerBush has brought some stability to the quarterback position for Purdue, starting the first eight games this season. Last year, Marve started the first four games before he tore the ACL in his left knee.
Rob Henry was supposed to be Purdue's starting quarterback in Marve's absence this season, but he tore the ACL in his right knee in August, opening the door for TerBush. Marve has since returned and appeared in five games.
"That's really tough from a competition standpoint," Purdue coach Danny Hope said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "All the guys that we used at the quarterback spots, all the guys really worked hard for that continuity as an offense."
Although Wisconsin ranks sixth nationally in scoring offense, at 45.1 points per game, the Badgers have not been particularly adept the past two games at pulling away from opponents early, and the results have proved costly.
A year ago, Wisconsin found itself with a similar problem against Purdue and actually trailed, 10-6, at halftime before three second-half interceptions helped fuel a 34-13 victory the Badgers' fifth straight win in the series.
A sixth consecutive series victory, obviously, would go a long way toward rectifying the Badgers' midseason struggles.
"We're going to come out this Saturday," Kelly said, "give it our best shot and turn this thing around."
Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter