After months of preaching one-day-at-a-time, take-it-as-it-comes football, Joe Krivak finally allowed himself to look to the future after Maryland's 13-12 victory over North Carolina State yesterday at Byrd Stadium.

"Ten years from now, all I know is that it's going to be a win," he said.

Already, Scott Zolak's four interceptions and the Terrapins' 41 total rushing yards had been forgotten, replaced by anticipation over another future event -- Saturday's game against seventh-ranked Michigan.

"It was very important to win today, going into Michigan . . . " said defensive back Mike Thomas. "If we'd lost we'd be 2-2 and then if we lost there it would be 2-3 and then we might start doubting our own selves. Now that we're 3-1, we can go into next week feeling that we can beat Michigan."

The Terrapins can enjoy that positive frame of mind because of their defense.

Entering the game, the Wolfpack topped ACC defensive standings and was second in the country, allowing 12 points and 188 yards a game. In its opening 67-0 rout of Western Carolina, N.C. State's defense allowed 17 yards total offense. Although they had allowed just 13 points and 275 yards, the Terrapins' defenders were rankled by the idea they were considered the lesser unit.

"They beat Western Carolina -- I don't even know who they are," said defensive tackle Lubo Zizakovic. "That game shouldn't have even counted in the stats."

"You've got teams like Clemson playing Long Beach and Appalachian State and N.C. State playing Western Carolina -- they can take a week off and still crush those people," linebacker Scott Whittier added. "We don't get those breaks. Every week we're playing a good team."

Maryland played without starters Ron Reagan and Jack Bradford and lost linebacker Glenn Page, the ACC's leading tackler, to a concussion in the first half (the senior was examined and released from Washington Adventist Hospital).

Reagan's replacement, Johnny Vessels, was also hobbled. So was Whittier, who could barely walk after the game.

The collective effort kept Maryland in the game, overcoming errors by the offense. When Thomas and the defense recovered a fumble by Aubrey Shaw with 1:22 remaining, the offense finally capitalized, moving into position for Dan DeArmas's game-winning 25-yard field goal.

"It becomes a little frustrating {watching the offense struggle} but it's a team effort," said Zizakovic. "They come through in spurts, they score when it counts -- no one on defense is Superman either."

It just seems like it.