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Know Rivalry Project studies biggest football rivalries ahead of Rivalry Week


Nov. 19, 2021 —  Ahead of college football’s Rivalry Week from Nov. 22-27, Northern Kentucky University’s Know Rivalry Project shares its work on the sport’s most intense and unbalanced rivalries.

The Know Rivalry Project at NKU facilitates sustainable collaboration in the research production, discernment and dissemination of knowledge about rivalry. The project is part of a popular course offered in the Haile College of Business. There are four sections of the rivalry course in the fall semester. The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Dr. Joe Cobbs, professor in the Haile College of Business, co-founded the project with Dr. David Tyler, is a collaborating institution for the research.

“The end of November is the most exciting time of the year for fans of college football,” Dr. Cobbs said. “When I moved from working in intercollegiate athletics to being a full-time professor, I had to stay involved in the excitement and passion that rivalries spark. The Know Rivalry Project allows me, affiliated faculty, and our students to engage that passion by capturing the fans' perspective of their favorite team's rivalries. Through our survey, we go beyond just the games that get the most media attention, and we measure and compare the intensity of rivalries across college football and many other sports.”

In the project's research, the intensity of rivalries is calculated using data from over 30,000 sports fans. That survey data is then analyzed according to 10 main ingredients for a “rivalry” that have emerged in the project's findings. Those ingredients are consistency, conspicuous moments, conspicuous characters, competitiveness, spatial proximity, synonymous values/appearance, shared supply pool, dominance, disparate values/ appearance, and discrimination by authority. A more in-depth look at the 10 ingredients of rivalry can be read online.

The Know Rivalry Project’s research concluded that the most intense college football rivalry is Arizona vs. Arizona State. Army vs. Navy is the second-most intense rivalry, followed by Ohio State vs. Michigan, Western Michigan vs. Central Michigan, and Bowling Green vs. Toledo rounding out the top five.

According to the Know Rivalry Project’s research, among local and regional teams, Cincinnati’s most intense rival is Louisville, while Louisville and Kentucky are eachother’s biggest rival. Miami of Ohio’s most intense rival in football is Cincinnati. Cincinnati defeated Miami (OH) 49-14 in Week 1 of the 2021 season, while Louisville will host Kentucky on Nov. 27.

To read more on The Know Project, its research and the most intense rivalries in sports, visit the official website

For more information on the Haile College of Business, visit its website

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit