It can divide families, friendships, the workplace - anything and everything. When it comes to the Territorial Cup matchup Friday between in-state foes Arizona and Arizona State, it's a mix of all that, and more.
Look no further than Wildcats junior nose tackle Tevin Hood, whose brother, Jaxon, is a true freshman defensive lineman for the Sun Devils. Before committing to ASU, Jaxon was even considering a scholarship offer from UA.
Tevin said the rivalry will run deeper than the on-field action in his household. Their father, a Tucson native, and two youngest brothers root for the Wildcats but the rest of the family sides with the Sun Devils.
The Hoods are from Chandler, Ariz., which is less than 30 minutes from Tempe and nearly 2 hours from Tucson.
"My dad always made a big deal out of it," Tevin said.
Tevin added that he and Jaxon will not deviate from a normal line of communication but also "won't go out of my way to say anything."
"I'll let him know what the deal is," Tevin said.
As for the rest of the family: "They're going to be feeling salty, so …"
Gino Crump celebrates on Arizona State's home turf after last season's 31-27 Arizona victory in Tempe.
For UA quarterback Matt Scott, it's an opportunity to hold bragging rights over a few Sun Devils from his hometown in Corona, Calif.
On the ASU roster are Michael Eubank, Brandon Magee and Will Sutton - all of whom attended Centennial High School.
"They could have went here, some of them," Scott said, smiling. "There's resentment against them I guess you could say. It's definitely a bigger game just because they're on the team. I don't want to lose to these guys and go back home and have those guys talking."
Just another swing in behavior that will add to the intensity of a rivalry that dates back to 1899, when the Sun Devils captured an 11-2 victory in the first of 85 meetings between the teams.
But Arizona leads the series 47-37-1 and has won three of the last four games.
"It means another chance to own the throne in Arizona," UA receiver Garic Wharton said. "Be the big dog in the state.
"I really don't want to lose to them. I really don't want to lose.
"As a football player in Arizona, they always try to compare you to ASU and see who won the last game. Winning last year definitely gave us a lot of confidence over this offseason, gave us room to talk smack, and whatnot. I want to keep that going."
But there also is a fine line between positive momentum from emotion and boneheaded actions, and head coach Rich Rodriguez said as much to the team Sunday.
Co-offensive coordinator Rod Smith added that "you've got bigger issues" if it takes anything extra to get amped for a game of this magnitude.
At the same time, Smith said, the players have to remember that the program is "built with discipline."
"So hopefully that carries over and they know how to control their emotions, they know not to take cheap shots," Smith said.
The last three meetings have been decided by a combined eight points, including a 31-27 victory for the Wildcats last season at Sun Devil Stadium.
Junior running back Daniel Jenkins expects no different in the latest installment.
"It's a rivalry game," Jenkins said. "It's probably going to come down to close plays and last-minute plays."
Each year, there are new faces who get introduced to the Territorial Cup for the first time. This year, there are even new coaches and new red Arizona helmets.
Running back Ka'Deem Carey was in the same shoes that true freshmen such as Cayman Bundage, Dakota Conwell and the rest of the newcomers will be in when the teams step on the field for the 8 p.m. MST showdown.
"You don't have to take anything that energizes you for this game," Carey said. "Your nerves are going to be there, just go out and play football. It's going to be one of the most memorable moments of your life, playing in this game."
It also will be a chance to send off another batch of seniors on a high note.
With the Territorial Cup sitting right in front of him, Carey recalled the satisfaction he got from watching ex-teammates like Nick Foles get the last laugh against the Sun Devils.
"Just seeing the looks on the seniors' face after they got to bring this home was unforgettable," Carey said. "You can't replace something like that. To keep it here for these seniors is just as important."
More than the victory itself, at stake is the glory and the moment to bask in the spotlight for another year.