You're making a rookie mistake.
May I have a chance to get on their level if I keep learning through experience and self-study?
It's not the knowledge that's the killer feature of the university system. It's the social aspect. By being in a university, I got to meet the tip top people in their fields. That, and the ability to work on cutting edge research that you wouldn't really have thought about by yourself.
As far as large university vs. small, there's less competition in a smaller university, but then there's less opportunity. You might have to work on something that is absolutely not interesting, even if it's important.