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Shannon Lambert, left, learns how to braid garlic as her friend, Mary Joy Stapleton, looks on during the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy Saturday July 24, 2010. (Photo by Patrick Tehan/Mercury News)

Three California universities -- San Jose State, Cal and Fresno State -- have just accepted bowl bids, but these rivals won't play on a gridiron. Instead, they'll fire up a culinary stage at the first-ever Garlic Bowl, which will kick off the 35th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 26. (We like our name idea -- the Stinking Rose Bowl -- better, but we don't imagine those Pasadena folks would go for it.) The inaugural contest will pit executive chefs from the three campuses against each other in a one-hour competition. Each team must prepare two garlicky dishes. Leading the teams will be Mary Ferrer of Cal, Michele Rogers of San Jose State and Erik Debaude of Fresno. The winning team will get a $5,000 scholarship for their school and bragging rights.

We were sorry to hear that the Axe, the iconic emblem of Cal-Stanford rivalry for the better part of a century, will not be used to mince any garlic cloves, but organizers are hopeful that Stanford will join the pungent competition next year. Meanwhile, for details on the festival, which runs July 26-28, go to www.gilroygarlicfestival.com.

-- Linda Zavoral