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How This Weekend's College Football Rivals Stack Up as College Values

Aug 28, 2014
Left: Reveille cheers on the Texas A&M Aggies. Right: South Carolina Gamecocks mascot Sir Big Spur on his perch during the game.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images (left)—Joe Robbins/Getty Images (right)

Texas A&M v. University of South Carolina

When: Thursday Aug. 28, 6 p.m. EDT

The Winner: Texas A&M, which came into the game ranked 21st in the AP poll, upset the 9th-ranked Gamecocks.

MONEY’s pick for college value: Texas A&M.

Texas A&M is one of the most affordable and highest quality public universities in the country. MONEY estimates that the total cost of a degree for freshmen starting this fall will average $86,000—$14,000 less than a degree from the University of South Carolina. Also, Aggies earn, on average, about $52,000 a year within five years of graduation, according to data from Payscale.com. Gamecocks report earning only about $41,300.

Penn State v. University of Central Florida

When: Saturday, August 30, 8:30 a.m. EDT

Oddsmakers' pick to win: UCF is given a slight edge thanks to its returning veteran defensive line.

MONEY’s pick for college value: Penn State

True, Penn State is expensive—a degree costs Nittany Lions an average of $142,000, or $41,000 more than Knights pay for their degrees—but Penn Staters are much more likely to graduate and earn healthy salaries. Penn Staters report earning almost $51,000 within five years of graduation, almost $10,000 more than UCF grads.

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Florida State University v. Oklahoma State University

When: Saturday, August 30, 8 p.m. EDT

Oddsmakers’ pick to win: FSU, last year’s national champion, is also the top-ranked team this fall, and has top-notch players at nearly every position.

MONEY’s pick for college value: It's a tie.

Schools within about 30 places in our value rankings are very similar, as shown by the slight differences between Oklahoma State, ranked 194, and FSU, 223. OSU’s graduation rate of 62% is significantly worse than FSUs 75%. But OSU students who do make it through tend to earn more: $44,400 a year within five years, versus FSU’s average of $41,600.

University of Miami v. University of Louisville

When: Monday, Sept. 4, 8 p.m. EDT

Oddsmakers’ pick to win: Louisville beat the Miami Hurricanes soundly in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl. But oddsmakers are giving them only a slight edge in the rematch.

MONEY’s pick for college value: Louisville

MONEY ranks Louisville No. 382 for value in the country–not great–in part because of its painfully low graduation rate of just 51% (compared with 81% for the University of Miami.) But as a public school, Louisville charges Kentuckians, on average, less than $100,000 for a degree, about half what students at the private Miami typically pay. Those high costs are one reason we ranked Miami 536 out of 665 on our list.

University of Notre Dame v. Rice University

When: Saturday, August 30, 3:30 p.m. EDT

Oddmakers’ pick to win: Notre Dame, even though some its best players have been sidelines by an academic investigation. The Fighting Irish are ranked 17 by the AP poll; Rice is unranked.

MONEY’s pick for college value: It's a tie.

You really can't lose with either of this schools. MONEY ranks both Notre Dame and Rice equally at 20th place for value. They both have stellar graduation rates of more than 90%. And students go on to earn salaries in the mid $50,000s within five years of graduation, according to Payscale.com. Notre Dame costs more (a degree costs about $185,000, versus $150,000 for Rice), but the higher cost was balanced out by unusually high earnings reported by Notre Dame's non-science majors.

See more of Money’s Best Colleges:
The 25 Most Affordable Colleges
The 25 Colleges That Add the Most Value
The 25 Best Colleges That You Can Actually Get Into

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