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Tulane slowly climbing out of the cellar according to preseason predictions

After long being the punching bag of its conference, Tulane finds itself gaining a little respect from not only national pundits, but its own league.

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James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Man, this page sure hasn’t been touched in a long time.

Are we sure Tulane still has a football program?

Let me check Google. I’ll be right back.

Well, it certainly seems like the Green Wave are still around. In fact, Tulane opens the 2015 season Thursday night at home against Duke.

Now that we figured out that Tulane is still playing football, let's see where the experts think the team will finish in the American Athletic Conference this season.

We'll start with the AAC itself and combine the East Division and West Division into one poll based off the preseason predictions.

Team Division Points 2014 Record
Cincinnati East 179 9-4 (7-1)
Memphis West 153 10-3 (7-1)
Houston West 149 8-5 (5-3)
Navy West 148 8-5 (X-X)
UCF East 135 9-4 (7-1)
Temple East 116 6-6 (4-4)
East Carolina East 105 8-5 (5-3)
Tulane West 74 3-9 (2-6)
SMU West 59 1-11 (1-6)
USF East 53 4-8 (3-5)
Tulsa West 47 2-10 (2-6)
UConn East 42 2-10 (1-7)

There is truly a clear distinction between the top and bottom of the East Division, more so than the West. Cincinnati is the runaway favorite to win the league (and East Division, for that matter), while conference mates think Memphis, Houston and Navy will battle it out for the West crown.

All things considered, however, Tulane finds itself in a respectable spot in the minds of its own conference. Last year the Green Wave were tied for ninth with UConn, but they're leading the have-nots this time around.

Athlon Sports predicted Tulane to finish fifth in the West Division behind the usual suspects (Houston, Navy and Memphis), but the Green Wave were also leapfrogged by SMU. If you were ranking the AAC by the publication's national rank, Tulane would fall in at 10th, in front of Tulsa and UConn.

Let's wrap up this roundup by checking out USA Today college football writer Paul Myerberg's rankings. Myerberg has the Green Wave fourth in the West Division, ahead of Tulsa and SMU. Tulane is 91st in his national sorting, placing them eighth in the AAC.

Myerberg also included this nugget when it comes to best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Green Wave's season.

Best case: Curtis Johnson's solid recruiting gives Tulane the talent and depth it needs to finish at 8-4 and second in the division.

Worse case: Tulane matches last year's total with three wins.

At least Myerberg didn't say Tulane could go winless. That's progress, right?