LOS ANGELES—The University of Southern California senior quarterback Cody Kessler proved why he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate this season after an impressive performance in a 55-6 win over Arkansas State on September 5, in the teams season opener at Memorial Coliseum.

Kessler, the nation’s most accomplished quarterback in 2015 after having the most efficient passing season in USC history last year, passed for 236 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters to lead a Trojan team that has received a lot of negative press this preseason thanks to head coach Steve Sarkisian’s drunken speech at a booster event two weeks ago.

”For the first game against a very dangerous opponent, it was a good first win,” said Sarkisian in a press conference after the win. ”I loved it. This is what I love to do, so I was proud of the guys.”

Kessler, one of two Trojan players to defend Sarkisian in a press conference the day after the pep rally last month, was 19-26 with zero turnovers in USC’s 18th consecutive season-opening win. Despite being sacked five times, the third-year USC starter led the Trojans to a 36-point lead before taking the fourth quarter off. Redshirt senior Tre Madden rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Madden, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steven Mitchell Jr. and Oklahoma transfer Taylor McNamara all caught TD passes from Kessler in the Trojans’ first game since the official end of NCAA scholarship restrictions on the perennial power.

After signing the nation’s top-rated recruiting class in February, the Trojans are beginning this season with 81 scholarship players, up from 67 last season. On Saturday, USC played 13 true freshmen in the blowout win over the Red Wolves proving the Trojans roster is young, but finally deep once again with talent.

Kessler posted the picture below to his Instagram account after the win and shared it on his Twitter page the same night.

USC will host Idaho this Saturday, September 12, in week two of the 2015 season.