WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Danny Hope has a chance to salvage something out of the season.

It's unclear whether the Purdue coach can do the same for his job.

Purdue (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) needs a win Saturday against Indiana to have a chance at postseason play. Scraping for a bowl bid wasn't what the team or its fans had in mind heading into the season. The Boilermakers were one of the favorites in the Legends Division, but they lost their first five conference games.

The fanbase has alternated between anger and apathy, with attendance hovering between 40,000 and 47,000 at home games. Still, earning a postseason spot by beating the rival Hoosiers (4-7, 2-5) on senior day would be memorable.

"We recognize we didn't play as well at a focal point in the season and a lot of fans gave up on our football team," Hope said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. "We understand that, and our play was a factor in that, along with other things, as well. But our football team hasn't given up."

A loss would be devastating against coach Kevin Wilson's improving program. The Hoosiers have gained credibility by playing tough against some of the better teams in the conference, and a win at Purdue would signal a power shift in the state.

The Boilermakers talked big in the preseason, and they appeared to have the talent and experience to back it up. A 3-1 start that included a three-point loss to Notre Dame energized the fans a bit because they knew Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible for the Leaders Division title.

Things went bad after non-conference play. After the loss to Minnesota in which Purdue fell behind the last-place Gophers 44-7, athletic director Morgan Burke put out a statement saying he expected more from the Boilermakers this season, but the team's performance "has kept us from reaching our goals."

Hope won't apologize for fueling the expectations.

"We set our goals high, and we shot for the stars and we didn't hit them," Hope said. "I think that let some of the wind out of our sails, and we had to rebound from that."

The Boilermakers have rallied, albeit against lesser competition, and now they at least have a chance to extend their season.

"We've fought hard and came back and we've played well and we've won and we've gotten ourselves in position to have a winning season and to get into postseason play and maybe play in a pretty good bowl game," Hope said. "This is a great opportunity this weekend for our great fans and all the other fans that can get back on board and make a difference, show up this weekend in Ross-Ade because it's a huge game this weekend against IU."

Part of Purdue's resurgence comes from the play of quarterback Robert Marve. The sixth-year senior tore his left ACL early this season, then missed several games before playing some against Michigan and Minnesota.

Hope inserted Marve as the starter in place of Caleb TerBush before the Penn State game, a 34-9 loss. Hope stuck with Marve, and the strong-armed passer has won two straight. In those games, he has completed 43 of 59 passes for 439 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

"He has taken his game, in spite of the injuries and all the things that he's been through, he's ended up being the player that he should have been," Hope said. "It's unfortunate he hasn't played at this level for three or four years and then he could have maybe been an All-American player and we'd have won a lot more ballgames and it would have been a different type of success story. But he's playing very, very well."

Marve's ability to improvise and his leadership skills have given the team a higher energy level.

"Any time that you have somebody out there that has something special about him or someone that maybe can create some magic on a play, that brings maybe a little more confidence to your football team or a little more belief that you can win," Hope said Tuesday.

Another change has been in the team's approach. Hope has often said that the team played tense instead of intense during its losing streak.

"With this particular football team, the last two or three weeks we have really made it a real emphasis to play loose and more wide open," he said. "I thought that we had played tight earlier in the season at a crucial point in time in our season. When the competition was at its highest and the stakes were the highest, I thought our team played tight some. So our approach the last two or three weeks is to be loose and be wide open and have a lot of fun, so that will be the approach that we take going into this ballgame."