I met Ambry Thomas this past summer when he was my seatmate on a flight to Dallas (he was going down to train with Jourdan Lewis). My wife got me to stop peppering him with questions after about 20 minutes, and when he comes across the screen and I call him "my buddy" she suggests that "your hostage" is more accurate. She's probably right, but he is a good sport, and a very nice guy.
In any case, I thought that this piece about his friendship with MSU LB Tryriq Thompson gives sense of why this rivalry is so important even if it isn't The Game. If you live in Michigan, you're likely to have a friend, co-worker, or relative (or all of the above) on the other side: